Doing business the Maori way

08 Oct, 2010
Doing business the Maori way
Te Ara Poutama lecturer, Dr Chellie Spiller
The Maori way of doing business is setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.

Te Ara Poutama’s lecturer in management processes and Maori economic development, Dr Chellie Spiller, is set to take up a Fulbright Scholarship next year in the US.

The research

Dr Spiller's research demonstrates how indigenous businesses in New Zealand and the United States can be a catalyst and creator of well-being and wealth through better personal relationships and better relationships with the natural world.

Dr Spiller’s research and work in the area of Maori businesses and how they operate looks at building secure relationships rather than just focusing on profits.


Presentations in Portugal at the European Group for Organisational Studies and in Montreal at the esteemed Academy of Management have interested a diverse range of people including indigenous and Western business leaders and scholars.

An article published in the international Journal of Business Ethics was included in the Best Paper proceedings at Montreal.

Business with a difference

“Academics and businesses are looking for innovation and new ways of doing business. There are so many ethical failures in business today. Responsible business leaders are always looking to learn new ways of how fundamental values, like care and compassion, can be applied through better business practices that create more wealth and wellbeing.

“I think the Maori way of doing business is a great example that can be followed by others. When a business simply focuses on profit it can lead to greed, ethical failures and dissociation from society. My research looks beyond conventional business paradigms. It offers an insight into how business can be done in new ways, reflecting ancient wisdom, so businesses aren’t copying the flaws of existing models.”

Dr Spiller’s Fulbright will see her at a number of American universities to pursue this research further and see how it can be enhanced by adding insights from US indigenous culture. Her research will be significant in terms of transformation of society and the economy, improving educational outcomes for Māori and Native Americans, strengthening economic participation, transforming indigenous and Western businesses and providing new frontiers of knowledge.

Dr Spiller’s research has been part of the Te Wheke a Toi programme funded by the Tertiary Education Commission. The programme aims to groom and grow Maori academics.

One of ten NZ research scholars to have been selected for a Fulbright New Zealand Senior Scholar Award, Dr Spiller intends to publish a book of case studies at the end of her US research period featuring both Maori and US indigenous businesses and their ways of successfully applying ethical principles to demonstrate new more sustainable ways of doing business.