The recent success of the Indigenous business sector shows that entrepreneurship offers a means for greater Indigenous self-determination, wealth and job creation, and economic empowerment. But despite recent strong growth, rates of Indigenous business ownership remain well below that of non-Indigenous Australians. The research uses a sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach to investigate if systemic racism has limited Indigenous entrepreneurship, and how it impacts the life pathways of entrepreneurial Indigenous Australians.
In the first step of the mixed-methods approach, the research uses a multivariate probit regression model to establish that once accounting for other pertinent factors such as education, gender, age and various socio-demographic variables, a difference in Indigenous and non-Indigenous business ownership rates exists, suggesting a discriminatory social barrier is limiting opportunities for Indigenous Australians to get into business. In the next step, the research finds new evidence to confirm the claim. Data from the Australian Indigenous Implicit Association Test attempts to measure the implicit biases of over 11,000 Australians, collected over a decade. One of the unique contributions of this study is presenting result of a societal implicit or unconscious bias that may predispose vast sections of the population to view Indigenous Australians through a negative lens. And that is regardless of gender, ethnicity, occupation, education, religion or political leaning. Such an environment may systematically limit Indigenous entrepreneurs from accessing opportunities that other Australians take for granted. Significantly, the research provides the first evidence to show that higher average levels of implicit bias across Australian regions are correlated with lower rates of Indigenous business ownership, the first quantitative evidence to reveal such a relationship.
The third step of the research uses innovative qualitative techniques, including using a structured activity in the form of a board game, to identify potential entrepreneurs in the Canberra and surrounding Indigenous communities. The approach provides an opportunity for participants to display entrepreneurial qualities in action, such as risk-appetite, decision-making under uncertainty and opportunity recognition, which has previously not been attempted in the entrepreneurship literature. Once confirming that participants display at least some entrepreneurial qualities, thereby receiving the moniker of potential entrepreneurs, the final step of the research attempts to understand how a discriminatory environment has impacted their lived experiences. The research uncovers significant insights into the limited pathways, opportunities and potential hurdles for entrepreneurial Indigenous Australians to get into business. But fascinatingly, the research also identifies the motivations of these potential entrepreneurs, who almost universally were forgoing some personal self-interest to work towards breaking through societal barriers, to create a new compact between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia – undertaking the task of ‘nation re-building’ for the benefit of other Indigenous Australians, arguably the most important enterprise of all.
Physical Attendance: Building 146, RSSS, Room 4.69, PG Meeting Room, please register your attendance with Naomi Snowball - Naomi.Snowball@anu.edu.au. Note that only 15 people will be allowed to attend the physical capacity
Zoom meeting details also available from Naomi Snowball - Naomi.Snowball@anu.edu.au