PurposePrimary sector firms by and large operate on indigenous territories across the world. In Canada, partnerships, land rights settlements, decolonization and reconciliation efforts provide indigenous communities with the financial means and the political power to stop projects they consider contrary to their traditions. How can companies acquire legitimacy among indigenous communities? This paper aims to answer this question by examining what the economic issues are among indigenous communities, how theories and practices of sustainable and legitimacy management articulated and how some basic notions of traditional indigenous teachings could inform non-indigenous managers are and help them interact better with indigenous leaders and their communities.Design/methodology/approachThis paper was informed about indigenous knowledge by secondary and primary indigenous and business sources from North America and from other areas such as Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Information about business relations with indigenous communities and stakeholders mostly came from non-indigenous sources, including scholarly results obtained within indigenous communities.FindingsSources of incompatibility between indigenous and European/Western worldviews are described. A selection of indigenous traditional beliefs and decision-making processes are presented, based on indigenous traditions around the Great Lakes region of North America. A discussion of desirable options for both indigenous and non-indigenous decision-makers to establish business legitimacy by overcoming their misperceptions is included.Practical implicationsA better understanding of economic issues in indigenous communities, indigenous perspectives and current developments, as well as lessons from the recent decades on successes and failures at establishing business legitimacy among indigenous communities, will help government and business decision-makers, as well as students and academic scholars.Originality/valueMainly based on management legitimacy theory and Anishnaabe knowledge, this paper makes an original contribution to the understanding of Indigenous strategic thinking in North America in its interaction with business legitimacy building issues.
Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 2, 2019
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