Umanga Whanaungatanga: Family Business Authors:

Amber Nicholson, Christine Woods and Manuka Henare


University of Auckland Business School


This is an exploratory paper in which we examine the Māori notion of whanaungatanga and the relevance it may have to the family business concept of familiness in Aotearoa New Zealand. We propose that whanaungatanga - broadly described as kinship relationships that develop a sense of belonging - as one of the cultural tenants of a Māori worldview - could be a critical source of leverage for Māori businesses. We also suggest that familiness is an inherent structure within Māori organisations, family business or otherwise. Familiness denotes the distinct set of resources and capabilities held within the family firm that has the potential to create competitive advantage. This paper puts forward the notion that familiness may have some correlation to spiritual and physical cultural notion of whanaungatanga, yet the latter has the potential to extend much further.


whanaungatanga, familiness, social capital

Contact Details:

Amber Nicholson Mira Szászy Research Centre University of Auckland Business School Private Bag 92019 Auckland 09 923 4585 [email protected]

INTRODUCTION This is an exploratory paper in which we examine the Māori notion of whanaungatanga and the relevance it may have to the family business concept of familiness in Aotearoa New Zealand. Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand (NZ), and Aotearoa the traditional Māori name for this country. We propose that whanaungatanga - broadly described as kinship relationships that develop a sense of belonging (Henare, 1988) - as one of the cultural tenants of a Māori worldview - could be a critical source of leverage for Māori businesses. We also suggest that familiness is an inherent structure within Māori organisations, family business or otherwise. Familiness denotes the distinct set of resources and capabilities held within the family firm that has the potential to create competitive advantage (Habbershon & Williams, 1999).

This paper puts forward the notion that familiness may have some

correlation to spiritual and physical cultural notion of whanaungatanga, yet the latter has the potential to extend much further.

Family systems and networks are based on obligation, and membership often compulsory and fixed provides a well-developed personal and communal identity (Rahman, 2011). This paper explores these intrinsic principles in a bid to understand what whanaungatanga can contribute to family business and its literature, and how the inherent desire to tend to spiritual, environmental social and cultural, and human capital can provide economic advantage. We have used the term umanga whanaungatanga to denote family business within a Māori context. Umanga is used widely to denote business but can also mean ‘pursuit’ (Williams, 1992 [1844]). The NZ Law Commission (2006) whose purpose as an independent Crown entity is to review the laws of Aotearoa New Zealand deems umanga as a community undertaking not limited to purely commercial endeavours. Thus we suggest that umanga whanaungatanga is the pursuit of communal and collective business ventures.

In a

collectivist society, such as that of Māori, communities believe life to be a holistic system. The environment, culture and society, spirituality and economy are all interconnecting processes that cannot be seen in isolation (Cajete, 2000; Marsden, 2003; Spiller, Pio, Erakovic, Henare, 2011; Suzuki et al., 1997). In contrast to the dominant Anglo-NZ view that family and business overlap, umanga whanaungatanga is the concept of umanga residing


within the realm of whanaungatanga. As echoed in other Indigenous societies, human life and activity dwells within the community context (Cajete, 2000).




Figure 1: Anglo-NZ Family Business Model

Figure 2: Maori Business Model

In this paper we first describe the background to the paper, a brief understanding of the theoretical lens used to frame this paper.

The next section explores the notion of

whanaungatanga and its many facets of whānau, whanaunga, and whakawhanaungatanga, as well as the ethics that underpin this principle. We then examine the notion of familiness and its relation to social capital; followed by our interpretation of what a Māori view of familiness looks like. The principle of kotahitanga is then considered and we highlight the advantages of enacting whanaungatanga.

We briefly summarise some of the issues

concerned with these reciprocal relationships before finishing by outlining the limitations of this paper.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK The Māori economy as an Indigenous economy of Aotearoa New Zealand has a long and flourishing history with beginnings in the Austronesian cultures and languages of South East Asia dating back 5000-7000years ago and thus they carry a history and wealth of knowledge that can inform modern business practices (Henare, 2000).

The social organisation of

Indigenous society underpinned commercial success whereby whānau and hapū (social/family units) were akin to corporate organisations (Marsden, 2003; Petrie, 2006). Indeed family or kinship systems are the oldest, most prevalent and established organisational entities of human history (Rahman, 2011).

However, since colonial times, significant

political and social impacts experienced by Māori led to a decline in Māori development 3

(Best & Love, 2011; Spiller et al., 2011). Recently there has been resurgence in the Māori economy (Durie, 2003; Henare, 2011; TPK, 2007) and research has shown that Māori are highly entrepreneurial when compared to other developed countries (Frederick & Chittock, 2006; Frederick & Henry, 2004). Yet there is little exploration into how Māori can cultivate entrepreneurship by using their own distinctive cultural values (Durie, 2003; Haar & Delaney, 2009). As an integral part of the Aotearoa New Zealand economies, and with the potentiality of significant growth, there is a need for further study into motivations of Māori in entrepreneurial activity (BERL, 2010; Haar & Delaney, 2009; NZIER, 2003). This paper is an exploratory study that aims to bring Māori cultural notions to the forefront allowing Māori the space to determine their own business principles, and define practices of a culturally appropriate nature within an Anglo-NZ dominant framework. There exists an assumption that conventional business ideology can be applied to a Māori framework without modification; it is Māori who are expected to adapt (Durie, 2003). Durie (2003) expresses caution with this inference, as it cannot be supposed that Māori businesses are driven by the same philosophy as that which underpins conventional business wisdom, that is, the single profit-driven bottom line.

WHANAUNGATANGA Whanaungatanga is a complex word that is made up of many parts. Whānau is the root word, that is prefixed, suffixed, or both to convey meaning (Tinirau, 2010). The concept of whānau has been evaluated and defined in many ways. Not only is there no single definition of whānau, but each whānau group demands different obligations and responsibilities (Durie, 1997; Tinirau, 2010). Literally translated, whānau denotes extended family, or to give birth (Williams, 1992 [1844]) and refers to those with a shared whakapapa (descent from a common ancestor) (Durie, 1997). As the primary social unit of Māori society, it often consisted of three to four generations at any one time (Henare, 1998; Metge, 1995; Walker, 1990). This differs from the conventional description of a nuclear family and Williams (1992 [1844]) questions whether Maori had any real comprehension of the family as a single unit. Formerly, whānau were responsible for both the social and economic management of domestic life. However, due to socio-economic changes in Aotearoa New Zealand in recent decades, the contemporary sense of whānau has transformed dramatically from these classical notions (Durie, 1997; Metge, 1995). Whilst some argue that these changes have rendered 4

whānau as insignificant, others claim that whānau have simply adapted to stay relevant (Durie, 1997). Metge (1995) contends that traditional principles - referred to here are kawa1 should not be confused with classical processes of the 18th and 19th century. Kawa is rendered as knowledge handed down from the spiritual world, that which remain steadfast and relevant through time, such as the principles of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and whanaungatanga. Tikanga is the man-made directives of how these kawa are understood and enacted and can vary between whānau (Henare, 2005). It is the whānau processes and activities that have adapted through the ages to suit each environment. Thus Metge (1995) argues that rather than being perpetual and static, the whānau is constantly developing according to context. In today’s contemporary society, whānau has extended beyond the classical description of whakapapa and now incorporates a wider sense of community (Haar & Delaney, 2009; Metge, 1995). It is often applied metaphorically to denote a group of like minded people who share a common kaupapa or purpose. This group use the whānau as the primary reference model, adhering to traditional whānau values. The central unifying principle then becomes the kaupapa as opposed to ancestry (Metge, 1995). Bishop (2008) describes whānau as “a location for communication, sharing outcomes and constructing shared common understandings and meanings” (p. 158). Māori also refer to whanaunga, rendered as ‘relative’ in the widest sense. Whanaunga are connected in various ways, and can belong to multiple whānau (Metge, 1995). As Bishop (2011) explains, when Māori introduce each other as whanaunga, “we are introducing part of one to another part of the same oneness. Knowing who we are is a somatic acknowledgment of our connectedness with and commitment to our surroundings, human and nonhuman” (p. 13).

The principle of whanaungatanga recognises the significance of networks and relationships (Māori Economic Development Panel, 2012). Bishop (2011) describes it as both a value and a social process of connectedness and engagement. Expressed as the “cement that holds things Māori together” (Ritchie, 1992, p. 67), it binds people through responsibility and obligation (Durie, 1997; Ritchie, 1992).


With reciprocity at the heart of this notion,

It is noted that there are some dialectical differences in the use of kawa and tikanga


whanaungatanga develops a deep-seated sense of belonging (Henare, 1998). Durie (1997) sees it as an active process: the way in which the bonds of whānau are strengthened. Whānau have a significant role in Māori development and to achieve this, there is no room for passivity. The family is one of the few institutions in an increasingly competitive society which is able to balance individualism with collective responsibility: whānau are more likely to operate as a collective (Patterson 1992); indeed, individual pursuits or achievements are often given little importance unless they are seen as part of the wider group’s aspirations (Durie, 1985). At the same time, whānau have the capacity to empower individual members to realise competitive goals and to enhance individual standing. (Durie, 1997, p. 12) We can deepen this term by adding the causative prefix of whaka to whanaungatanga which brings belonging into effect: whakawhanaungatanga is the seen as the development and enhancement of relationships and linking people through whakapapa (genealogy) (Tinirau, 2010).

As whakawhanaungatanga refers to the development and advancement of

relationships it has been applied in many different contexts (Tinirau, 2010) including research (Bishop, 2008), education (Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh & Teddy, 2007), and business (Haar & Delaney, 2009). As is the interwoven nature of Māori society, whanaungatanga is not a stand-alone concept. It is underpinned by the relational values such as mana, tapu, wairua and hau. Henare (2001, 2003) developed He Korunga o Ngā Tikanga: a matrix of ethics and morality that constitutes a Māori worldview of the interconnectedness of Māori principles in a relationship of reciprocity and respect. All ethics are interdependent illustrating that “in order to understand the whole one must understand the parts or put another way, in order to understand the parts one must understand the whole” (Henare, 2003, p. 88).


He Korunga o Ngā Tikanga Spiral/Matrix of Ethics – The Good Life te ao mārama enlightenment, cosmos





Tiakitanga guardianship

Hohou rongo




hau mana


Manaakitanga/Atawhai generosity

Whānaungatanga belonging

te ao hurihuri change & tradition

M. Henare, 2001, 2003

Figure 3: He Korunga o Ngā Tikanga Tikanga te ao mārama (ethic of wholeness, evolving, cosmos) Tikanga mana (ethic of power, authority, and common good, actualisation of tapu) Tikanga hau (ethic of spiritual power of obligatory reciprocity in relationships with nature, life force, breath of life) Tikanga mauri (ethic of life essences, vitalism, reverence for life) Tikanga tapu (ethic of existence, being with potentiality, power, the sacred) Tikanga wairua - wairuatanga (ethic of the spirit and spirituality) Tikanga manaakitanga (ethic of love and honour, solidarity, reciprocity) Tikanga hohou rongo (ethic of peace and reconciliation, restoration) Tikanga tiaki – tiakitanga (ethic of guardianship of creation, land, seas, forests, environment) Tikanga kotahitanga (ethic of solidarity with people and the natural world and common good) Tikanga whānau – whanaungatanga (ethic of belonging, reverence for the human person) Tikanga tika – tikanga (ethic of the distinctive nature of things, of the right way, of the quest for justice )


Tikanga te ao hurihuri (ethic of change and tradition) (Henare, 2003)

As a business notion, whanaungatanga can be seen as a resource whereby the entrepreneur(s) can utilise the resources of the collective (Haar & Delaney, 2009). A Māori worldview sees resources as being held within the people, a sharing of power that is defined by the whānau (Berryman, Bateman & Cavanagh, 2010). As an ongoing process, whanaungatanga can be used in its traditional form as a means to establish and bolster alliances in an appropriate modern context (Tinirau, 2010). Reciprocal relationships are premised upon the notion that enhancing the mana of others, will in turn enhance one’s own mana (Spiller et al., 2010). Through establishing and nurturing whanaungatanga, both within Māori businesses and with their counterparts, there is potential to gain competitive advantage through these strong, unique bonds (Haar & Delaney, 2009). It can provide “guidance, cooperation and support in times of peace or trouble, and relationships such as these can be considered durable, strong and highly valuable” (Tinirau, 2010, p. 301). This deeply ingrained value promotes strong loyalty and trust, and it is this “magic ingredient” (Ritchie, 1992, p. 69) that underpins the success of Indigenous business (Ritchie, 1992).


Families within family business are not mere individuals working together, but a unique system of family capabilities and interactions that define and differentiate the firm. These firms have their own distinct cognitive mechanisms and philosophy (Rahman, 2011). Family business literature has developed the term familiness to denote the set of resources and capabilities that are distinctive to a family firm due to the interactions between the family unit, its individuals, and the business, and as a means to differentiate between family and non-family business (Habbershon & Williams, 1999; Pearson, Carr & Shaw, 2008). Familiness has the potential to generate competitive advantages or disadvantages, termed distinctive and constrictive respectively (Chrisman, Chua & Steier, 2005).


familiness denotes the positive effect of family involvement in the organisation. It is the ability to generate competitive advantage, economic wealth, and enhanced organisational performance (Chrisman et al., 2005; Pearson et al., 2008).

Distinctive familiness is a

representation of the aspirations and skill set of the family and is thus heavily influenced by noneconomic motives. It is the social mission of the organisational purpose that gives the firm its distinctive culture (Chrisman et al., 2005).

Furthermore, family firms tend to 8

intentionally pursue a common vision that will continue to create wealth for future generations (Chrisman, Chua & Steier, 2005; Pearson et al., 2008).

Social capital theory is used by Pearson, Carr and Shaw (2008) as a framework to identify the specific resources and capabilities of familiness and how these are created. In broad terms, social capital refers to the set of resources (physical and intangible) that can be accessed by an individual or collective through social networks (Robinson & Williams, 2001). Thus it is a tacit resource influenced by family history that renders it non-transferable. Pearson et al. (2008) choose to conceptualise social capital along Nahapiet and Ghosal’s (1998) three dimensions of structural, cognitive and relational. They put these elements forward as the specific resources and capabilities of familiness. The structural dimension refers to the general properties of social interactions, the strength of network ties and the ability to utilise social networks. Family businesses may possess advantage over non-family firms to employ existing network ties (Pearson et al., 2008).

The cognitive aspect of social capital

incorporates the collective vision and purpose of the firm, as well as shared meanings, experiences and culture. This cognitive element is a unique function of family history. Finally, the relational element is comprised of the resources that are developed through personal associations. This can involve resilient trust (as opposed to the fragile trust most non-family businesses rely on), norms of collaboration, obligations via reciprocity, and collective identity.

These resource dimensions lead to enhanced capabilities that are

beneficial to the firm including the efficient flow of information and cooperation. In order for the effective development of social capital, Pearson et al. (2008) defined four conditions that must be present: time/stability, the capacity to develop, grow and sustain social relationships; closure, the ability to inhibit outside influences, protecting norms and identity; interdependence, as a function of shared interests (goals); and strong interaction. These conditions are pertinent to family businesses and thus give family firms the potentiality to create more effective forms of social capital than non-family firms.

Simply, these

aforementioned conditions are what produce distinctive familiness. FAMILINESS IN A MĀORI CONTEXT Distinctive familiness as the product of effective social capital can be seen within Māori business. Most Māori will inherently relate to the influence of familiness, yet we propose that a Māori worldview deepens these notions through the intrinsic value of whanaungatanga. 9

A Māori view of social capital sees whānau at the heart of all other relationships; whānau in its broad application becomes the community (Robinson & Williams, 2001). Māori intensify the notion of social capital by encompassing cultural capital: Social capital is created through networks and relationships that are within all of these expressions of “family” (or community). Thus, in the Māori context, the distinction between cultural and social capital disappears. Cultural capital is an important aspect of social capital and social capital is an expression of cultural capital in practice. Social capital is based on and grows from the norms, values, networks and ways of operating that are the core of cultural capital. (Robinson & Williams, 2001, p. 55) This merging of capitals is echoed in Henare’s (2011) definition of the four Māori wellbeings of which are spiritual, environmental, economic and that of socio-cultural or kinship. Thus the development of whanaungatanga, of kinship relationships can be seen as investment in social and cultural capital. However it must be noted that although there is a theoretical separation of capitals, a Māori worldview sees them as part of a whole.

It is these four well-beings of spiritual, environmental, socio-cultural (kinship) and economic that are the essence of a philosophy of Māoritanga (shared cultural identity) (Henare, 2011). It is argued that the objective of Māori business and its unique strength is to generate collective wealth in these broader spiritual, environmental, socio-cultural and economic realms. Whilst these businesses aim to work within the market system to establish profitable, economically sound and sustainable enterprises, economic prosperity is depicted as a means to holistic wealth creation (Māori Economic Development Panel, 2012; NZIER, 2003; Spiller et al., 2010; Spiller et al., 2011; TPK, 2007). As Indigenous enterprises tend to involve numerous stakeholders, the autonomy of the individual is overshadowed (Lindsay, 2005). Thus it is the perceived collective benefits such as boosting the mana of the collective, the protection of taonga (treasured things) or providing whānau employment opportunities that provide stronger motivation for Māori entrepreneurial activities than that of economic wealth creation (Haar & Delany, 2009). Spiller, Erakovic, Henare and Pio (2010) talk of ‘relational wealth’ within business, the acknowledgement that “the value generated through effective, stable and trusting relationships brings benefits beyond what can be measured in ‘profit’ terms alone” (p. 157). These authors have used a Māori framework to develop the relational wealth concept laid out by Leana and Rousseau (2000) who sees it as the economic advantage that stems from the 10

relations businesses experience with their workforce, as well as their external alliances in suppliers and communities. Relational wealth is seen as an under-recognised, under-utilised and under-valued resource in the business realm; an intangible asset that can be utilised to create leverage (Leana & Rosseau, 2000). Extending further than pure economic advantage, relational wealth in a Māori context can be developed though “valuing the intrinsic worth of others; demonstrating care, empathy, and respect; and seeking to base relationships on shared values” (p. 154). It is premised on the notion of enhancing the mana of others. Spiller et al. (2010) found that Māori businesses practice relational wealth through their creation of multidimensional well-being. The concept of relational wealth can be seen as the essence of whanaungatanga. In relating a Māori worldview to distinctive familiness we argue that Māori possess the distinctive resources to give them competitive advantage. Forming the basis of Māori society are the interlocking networks between all living things. Types of community, governance structures and service delivery are based on institutions of whanaungatanga (Robinson & Williams, 2001). This structural dimension theoretically gives Māori an advantage over Anglo-NZ firms to employ existing network ties. Shared meanings of both the cognitive and added spiritual dimension do not need to be limited to those within the whānau or business but can be extended to outside networks and all stakeholders. Māori firms share the notion of holistic wealth creation with the community and other organisations, creating strong networks and thus competitive advantage. Relational elements of personal associations are a product of cognitive and structural dimensions. The four antecedents of social capital again can be seen in a traditional Māori worldview. Māori tend to look strategically ahead with care and forethought for future generations. This allows the space for the eternal perpetuation of the whānau, the factor of time and stability. A solid base of Māori identity can create closure, a reaffirmation of Māori wisdom and the premise of the interdependence and interaction of the entire system of life. Thus, these conditions that influence distinctive familiness, can be seen as aspects that lie within a Māori business. Yet, familiness lacks the notion of mana and thus is too narrow for a Māori framework. When Māori capabilities of an entrepreneurial kind are unlocked, acknowledged and enacted, these cultural principles can create sustainable, wealth enhancing and competitive businesses.


In fact, Ta Tipene O’Regan2 (2008) has asserted that Māori organisations have struggled in the current market system due to their propensity to adopt the operating norms of a market driven society, those that are contrary to the traditional collective values of which they aspire to.

KOTAHITANGA– ENACTING WHANAUNGATANGA In applying whanaungatanga, Māori businesses create belonging through constructing community with stakeholders, enhancing the mana of all involved (Spiller et al., 2010). An intentional effect of whānau relations are the informal yet implicit affiliations based on obligation and reciprocity. It is the integrity of the relationship that is of fundamental importance and these supersede formal associations and functional contracts (Robinson & Williams, 2001; Spiller et al., 2010). As opposed to the dominant Anglo-NZ business objective of ‘profit-maximising’, Māori businesses can be seen to be ‘value-creating’. Whanaungatanga is a strategy that can generate added value or meaningful benefits to the business across multi-dimensional well-beings (Spiller et al., 2010). Maori businesses are able to add value to stakeholder relationships by “deepening connections through shared values, aligning goals, and adopting a long-term outlook” (Spiller et al., 2010, p. 164) as well as through a profound spirituality, or wairuatanga. Māori are forward looking, with whakapapa, whanaungatanga, and mātauranga (knowledge), created and passed down with forethought to the future of coming generations.


strategic planning is an inbuilt and under-recognised element of whanaungatanga. As stated earlier, whanaungatanga can be used as the notion of leveraging off the collective; developing strategic alliances that create competitive advantage. Durie (2003) outlines six key principles that commonly underpin Māori-centred businesses. These consist of tuhono (alignment); pūrotu (transparency); whakaritenga (balanced motives); paiheretia (integrated goals); puāwaitanga (best outcomes); and kotahitanga (alliance). It is kotahitanga, the principle of solidarity and alliance that we would like to explore further.

Kotahitanga promotes

cooperation across entities: the process of acknowledging the mana of all involved and reestablishing whanaungatanga (Ritchie, 1992). Ritchie (1992) describes it as “becoming one out of many” (p. 72). In too many cases, Māori organisations compete with each other for the


Sir Tipene O’Regan


same market share while joint ventures and the pooling of resources are left unexplored. The reciprocity of business alliance is not ultimately about immediate economic return, but can be seen as “a qualitative state of reaching long-term equivalence that has spiritual as well as material dimensions” (Spiller et al., 2011, p. 164). Collaboration can lead to greater scope and scale of commercial, economic and social opportunities such as greater efficiency, reduced costs, added value, innovation, increased employment opportunities, greater levels of capital investment, and increased knowledge, all without compromising identity (Durie, 2003; Māori Economic Development Panel, 2012; Spiller et al., 2011). Māori businesses that have a strong ethic of whanaungatanga are able to capture the support of the community for particular endeavours. Hollow corporate rhetoric is swiftly recognised, but by acknowledging that business is an active participant in society and establishing relational social connections it can create reciprocal well-being and produce a ‘Māori edge’, or competitive advantage (Māori Economic Development Panel, 2012; Spiller et al., 2010; TPK, 2007). Furthermore, Māori enterprises may be better aligned to deliver effective services to their community (Māori Economic Development Panel, 2012). By keeping the lines of communication open, Māori organisations may be able to tailor their services to the market, as well the inherent promotion of community well-being. In collectively building a shared vision, Māori businesses are able to build trust and thus a distinct advantage over those organisations that operate through the conventional hands-off approach (Spiller et al., 2010).

Whanaungatanga need not be isolated to the community or domestic level, but can extend to overseas markets. In developing culture-to-culture connections with other kinship based cultures such as China who value culture before business, can open up and enhance off-shore trade (Māori Economic Development Panel, 2012). In fact, success in global markets is determined by access to existing networks and the cultivation of new relationships (Chetty and Campbell-Hunt, 2003; Jaeger & Rudzki, 2007; Shaw & Darroch, 2004). As the recognition of whānau relationships, whanaungatanga encompasses the traditional Māori teaching and learning relationship of potikitanga/rangatiratanga (Tapsell & Woods, 2008), also referred to as teina/tuakana (Haar & Delaney, 2009).

This concept is the

intergenerational knowledge exchange that occurs between the wiser, more experience rangatira and those younger, less experienced potiki. This knowledge exchange based on 13

intergenerational learning strengthens the bonds of whanaungatanga and vital in the development of Māori entrepreneurial activity (Tapsell & Woods, 2008; Haar & Delaney, 2009). ISSUES WITH WHĀNAUNGATANGA

The practise of whanaungatanga as outlined above has the potential to produce many advantages for Māori business, however, this needs to be balanced against the conflicts and costs incurred by active participation of whānau members.

The assumption that

whanaungatanga will produce only positive benefits, fails to recognise the personal and economic sacrifice that may occur (Durie, 1997).

Whānau members are obliged and

expected to provide assistance via way of financial and/or emotional support as and when required, often forgoing self and/or family interests for the sake of the collective (Durie, 1997; Metge, 1995). This potential to enhance well-being of others is not indefinite. Unless whānau members are supported themselves, their capacity to develop others is depleted (Durie, 1997). Similarly, those who sacrifice too much of themselves may become resentful. Both the family member and the kaupapa may suffer if they lack commitment and passion (Lansberg, 1999). Tensions over personal freedom, conflicting aspirations and/or loyalties, and economic demands must be managed to produce the benefits of whānau support, strong identity and access to resources and finance.

Whanaungatanga is dependent on active

leadership (Durie, 1997). Another aspect that must be recognised is the potential for a deficit in economic resources due to the increased effort invested in relationship building. Although, this can be leveraged with the increased investment in social capital (Haar & Delaney, 2009). Although contemporary visions have extended the view of the whānau to a metaphorical level, these relationships are not guaranteed to produce the same results as the whakapapa based whānau. Bonds are much harder to develop and maintain in metaphorical whānau due to the lower levels of obligation, and may not be as effective (Metge, 1995; Ritchie, 1992). Durie (1997) the high level of flexibility in the metaphorical whānau as both a strength and a weakness and a balance must be negotiated. Widmer (2006) found that within friendship based family configurations, all members, blood relations or friends are deemed family, but are often kept separate.

This affected the research participants beneficially as they

maintained structural autonomy.

However, we argue that when applied to business

relationships, this has the potential to create a divide between kinship whānau and non14

kinship whānau members. Another dichotomy that much be negotiated is in the leadership of the whānau. Kaupapa-based whānau the ancestral determinant of leadership is removed and offers more opportunity for the assertion of mana tangata (mana based on personal merits). However, the flip side of this is that egoistic tendencies and unhealthy rivalry have a greater space to flourish (Metge, 1995). In applying the notion of whanaungatanga within nonkinship whānau, that is in creating alliances with outside organisations, firms must be look at these networks strategically. Basing the alliances on the whakapapa model and Māori values, firms much negotiate how to manage conflict as well as set clear guidelines on the expected levels of support (Metge, 1995).


This paper is a theoretical view on the notions of whanaungatanga and familiness. It is also experiential in that the actions of ancestors are constantly referred to and relived in new experiences. Thus is likely to raise further questions, more than it answers. But this allows the space for these questions to be posed, and a proposed research stream in which to answer them. Our research also supposes that Māori businesses all share the same inherited qualities and attributes, and the same vision of multi-dimensional well-being. Nor has it differentiated between the many types of family or Māori businesses that exist.

The practise of

whanaungatanga and the level of familiness may vary between each organisational structure. Each whānau has its own characteristics and effectiveness that arises from the personal qualities and capabilities of its members and the context in which it resides (Metge, 1995). Widmer (2006) has found that closely related family configurations produce different social capital to those with diverse friendship family structures. Existing in whānau relationships are complementary pairs such as the aforementioned potiki/rangatira dualism. Each role has a different purpose, but is reliant on the other to carry out their function. This creates oppositional and co-operational tensions that must be balanced. These conflicts are essential in whānau dynamic, but if left unmanaged they can undermine the solidarity of the whānau (Metge, 1995). It is also assumed that whānau relationships and understandings of these relationships are strong to begin with. Yet even within nuclear families, not all members strongly relate to each other (Widmer, 2006).

Inter-family conflict can be a barrier to

establishing whānau relationships. However, it must also be noted that discord may be a 15

source of dynamism. Indeed kotahitanga is about allowing the space for all to be heard (Ritchie, 1992).

We have focused on distinctive familiness, that which has positive consequences, and likewise assume that whanaungatanga bonds will have beneficial to the business.


Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) note that social capital is not always advantageous, but can also impact negatively. Binding social capital, that of dense interconnected networks facilitates trust and cooperation but can also be a barrier to individuality outside of the family system (Widmer, 2006). Strong identity and closure, whilst producing positive group performance, can also generate group blindness, group think, and an unwillingness to take on other information or alternatives. In addition, the family is a powerful influence on the identity and dream development of its members, but this can also be a source of control that stifles individual aspirations (Lansberg, 1999).

The reality of familiness is that it can impact positively and negatively on an organisation. The competitive advantage is not seen in the resources themselves, but in the way the firm manages these potentially opposing forces (Irava & Moores, 2010; Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998). Enacting effective whanaungatanga relationships is dependent on active leadership and communication.

CONCLUSION This is an exploratory paper that looks into the Māori principle of whanaungatanga and the family business construct of familiness to determine if there is a connection. Some may question the value of comparing and indigenous concept with an Anglo notion, arguing that indigenous knowledge needs the space to stand alone as its own concept. We agree with this argument and do see umanga whanaungatanga as a concept unto itself. The comparison with the Western construct of familiness is to infuse alternative thinking and worldview into the current literature, to give it a pathway to permeate mainstream frameworks. We feel this paper serves its purpose as an act of self-determination: affirming the existence of Indigenous knowledge that has been largely ignored in Western systems, which according to Battiste (2002) is the role of the Indigenous scholar.


As is the case with family business, the objective of a Māori enterprise goes beyond the pursuit of individual economic well-being. The purpose of Māori business is the creation of wealth in its holistic sense encompassing spiritual, environmental, socio-cultural, and economic well-beings (Spiller et al., 2010; Henare, 2011). Whānau are at the centre of all dimensions, ultimately underpinning the success of economic entities (Māori Economic Development Panel, 2012). It is through the institution of whanaungatanga that adheres to traditional values that we can enrich the collective wealth of the community (NZIER, 2003; Spiller et al., 2011). Reciprocal relationships of respect are at the heart of Indigenous culture; common good is reliant on the well-being of all realms (Henare, 1988; NZIER, 2003; Spiller et al., 2010). Whanaungatanga commands commitment and responsibility from whānau members. It is seen as a resource to proactive self-determination (Metge, 1995).

By focussing on holistic and communal well-being, partnerships and strategic alliances with the community, suppliers and other stakeholders can be formed that will be beneficial for the development of all parties (Spiller et al., 2010). As Māori are more concerned with the quality of relationships, a sustainable connectedness can be established that engenders trust and good faith, and ultimately competitive advantage (Spiller et al., 2010). Whanaungatanga is seen as the process of whānau empowerment, the construction of new resources and capabilities to create sustainable wealth creation along spiritual, environmental, socio-cultural and economic dimensions. In a world that emphasises individual autonomy, it is the family and whānau that we must look to in order to reclaim a sense of humanism, the spirit of collective responsibility and cooperation (Durie, 1997).


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