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Australian indigenous social enterprise: Measuring performance

Spencer, R.ORCID: 0000-0001-7910-7844, Brueckner, M., Wise, G. and Marika, B. (2016) Australian indigenous social enterprise: Measuring performance. Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 10 (4). pp. 397-424.

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Using an integrated framework for performance management of nonprofit organisations, this paper presents an analysis of the activities of an Indigenous social enterprise in the town of Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. The evaluation focuses on the social effectiveness of the organisation and its ability to help generate income and employment and drive social capital creation.

The analysis is informed by data derived from ‘yarns’ with social enterprise staff and semi-structured interviews conducted with key informants who were selected using snowball sampling. Data were transcribed and analysed thematically.

The analysis reveals that the organisation provides a successful community-based pathway to increasing Indigenous economic participation on local terms at a time of regional economic decline and high levels of Indigenous unemployment nationally.

Practical implications
The measured effectiveness of Nuwul highlights the need for targeted policy support for Indigenous enterprises and that social entrepreneurship is far more likely to be successful in a supportive government policy environment. a critical need for government-initiated policies to encourage the formation of Indigenous social enterprises that are entrepreneurial and innovative in their solutions to poverty and marginalization. Such policies should not only aid the establishment of Indigenous ventures but also facilitate their long-term growth and sustainability.

While Indigenous entrepreneurial activities have been found to be effective in addressing Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, little is known about their community impact. The article provides original empirically grounded research on the measurement of Indigenous entrepreneurial activities and their wider community impact. The data show, against the backdrop of mixed results of government efforts to drive Indigenous economic mainstreaming, that the entrepreneurial activities analyzed in this paper are an example of more flexible and culturally appropriate pathways to achieving Indigenous equality in rural and remote regions of Australia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School Of Business and Governance
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright: © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
United Nations SDGs: Goal 1: No Poverty
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
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