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Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 41: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Entrepreneurship in Australia: Looking Forward, Looking Back
Michael Schaper Introduction Entrepreneurship is not just the product of an economic system; it is also shaped by, and profoundly aﬀects, the cultures within which it operates. For many minority ethnic groups, there has often been a clash between their traditional values and those of modern freemarket entrepreneurship. This dichotomy has been especially pronounced for indigenous peoples displaced by European settlement and colonisation between the Renaissance and the twentieth century. For many of these so-called ‘ﬁrst nations’, the changes have resulted in a loss of political, economic and legal power, with communities being economically marginalised and left dependent on welfare and public support for survival. Ironically, however, entrepreneurship now also oﬀers opportunities for many such groups to reclaim some of their traditional strengths. Like other indigenous peoples across the world, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia1 have had to deal with many changes in the two hundred years since Europeans ﬁrst began to settle the continent. During that time, there have been substantial changes in the social, cultural, political and economic position of indigenous society. From a traditional hunter–gatherer economy little changed over several centuries, indigenous Australians have since had to adapt to the threats and opportunities provided by a liberal market economy. Whilst some substantial improvements have recently been made, Aboriginal peoples still lag far behind their European contemporaries in many areas of economic activity, such as individual enterprise and business creation. This chapter examines the status of indigenous entrepreneurship in Australia. It begins...
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