Directions for the Sustainable Development and Competitiveness of Regions
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Börje Johansson and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 15: Sámi reindeer herders in Finland: pulled to community-based entrepreneurship and pushed to individualistic firms
In Norway and Sweden, reindeer herding is, with minor exceptions, an exclusive right of the Sámi. In Finland, however, Sámi reindeer herders are but a minority. Evidence suggests that while Sámi reindeer herders are pulled to reindeer herding with its traditional cultural value, they are being pushed into finding profits. Their cultural identity is undermined by inequitable recognition, in comparison with neighbouring lands. The sector policy of reindeer herding is also more profit oriented in Finland than the other Nordic countries. Do Sámi herders in Finland need specific protection for performing their business in accordance with their cultural values? Would a Nordic Sámi Convention address this problem? As Reynolds (1991: 48) has noted, ‘entrepreneurship scholars have generally focused on either individual entrepreneurial behavior or the activity of entrepreneurial (new) firms’. Most studies have concentrated on entrepreneurs and have ignored the general population from which these entrepreneurs emerged (Davidsson and Delmar, 1992), perhaps because it was not felt that the population of origin was central to the understanding of entrepreneurship. An empirical study comparing entrepreneurs from Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds concluded that the perception of opportunity for entrepreneurship is a function of culture (Dana, 1995). Drakopoulou Dodd and Anderson (2007) have suggested that while the economic environment may explain some factors, it is also important to take account of the social and cultural aspects of entrepreneurial activity.
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