Project lead: Assoc. Prof. Prem Yapa, School of Accounting, Info Systems & Supply Chain
This symposium aimed to develop an expert network supporting IABE's capacity to manage risks and opportunities for better business performance and relationship making. IABEs play a critical economic and a social role in Australia. Yet, many IABEs are nascent, needing more innovative ways to nurture effective management styles. This event is critical for new knowledge development by key stakeholder participation and insights on how IABEs perceive and take on business risks and develop meaningful partnerships. Consequently, the event was an avenue for informing policy making around IABE business investment and governance capability development. It is aligned with RMIT's Strategic goals related to Diversity and achieving community impact.
The symposium was held in the National Indigenous Business month – 27 October 2017 as a one-day event.
The first half of the symposium designed to share of knowledge and best practice. Prominent researchers were invited to present extant research findings on IABE business trends. Key business leaders shared their insights and experiences on risks and opportunities faced by IABEs in developing business partnerships. Second half of event involved a workshop on building risk analysis and communication models. We developed the workshop in conjunction with key professional bodies such as the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI), Indigenous Business Australia (IBA)and the Governance Institute of Australia, Aboriginal business owners and managers and those organisations that they are partnering with also invited to the workshop. A two-way communication style of workshop involving a sharing of stories on risks perceptions and appetites, approaches to risk analysis and communication of risk levels were undertaken. The format involved mainly about learning from the participants about what works or does not work in terms of taking riskier investments and business opportunities as well as sharing extant research evidence.
The main outcome of the project was to get a feed-back and exposure to main opportunities and partnerships in Indigenous Australian Business Entities (IABE). There were about 50 participants attended the symposium including, Prof Mark McMillan (RMIT), Prof Nava Subramanium (RMIT), Prof. Mark Rose (from La Trobe University), two representatives from PWC and a few representatives from Westpac Bank, and some representatives from Australian indigenous businesses in Victoria. The issues –(outcome) discussed are:
(1) “ Do indigenous business owners view non-indigenous business as an impediment to their business” – As revealed only 3 % of business categorised under indigenous business.
(2) The discussions and feed-back received to focus more on - “procurement of supply nation”; “attempt to identify indigenous business relationships”; “what elements of procurement services face risks”; “how these elements affect or impede indigenous business in Australia”; “how finance is taking place indigenous business”; “what issues associated with collaterals in operating indigenous business”; “how financing organisations see the business relationships with prevailing banking practices and covenants”; “how the morale dilemma works among indigenous business enterprises”; “how indigenous business network with non-indigenous business”; “what leadership attributes can be seen and how indigenous people say about their businesses”.
(3) It was appreciated that RMIT university is an active member of Supply Nation network in Australia.
(4) It was reiterated that “We should include a few indigenous business leaders in the advisory board of the school Education and Curriculum Development” perspectives on the education programmes in Indigenous Business - Why education programs in indigenous business are important?
Based on the information and contacts developed from the symposium, the research team developed a paper using the data collected (documentary & secondary sources) and submitted a research paper and presented to Accounting and Finance Association in Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ) conference in Oakland, New Zealand from 1-3 July -2018. Title: Indigenous community connections and Aboriginal enterprise development in Australia.
The Symposium provided the research team to further investigate the research area and liaise with local organisations to collaborate in further research. Currently, we meet up with Supply nation and CPA Australia to go ahead with the research work. We have contacted a representative from CPA- Australia in relation to establishing connections and developing relationships with the Indigenous community (as requested by the Ethics Committee -BCHEAN).
Next expected steps of the research project are:
(1) to obtain the human ethics approval to conduct interviews and collect primary data and develop a research paper and submit to a conference for further feedback and comments.
(2) Submit the paper to a high ranked journal for publication.
(3) Discuss with industry partners (mainly with Supply Nations and CPA - Australia) for a competitive grant to further update the research on Indigenous Australian Business Entities (IABE).