ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Determining the factors influencing the success of private and community-owned Indigenous businesses across remote, regional and urban Australia, (2011-2013)

ILWS Strategic Research Area
Sustainable Business Development in Regional Australia

ARC Linkage grant with partners Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA), Indigenous Business Australia (IBA). ($454,682)

Investigators/ Researchers
Prof Mark Morrison, ILWS,  Prof Jock Collins, UTS, Dr Branka Krivokapic-Skoko, ILWS, Dr PK Basu, ILWS, Tracey Trudgett, ILWS, David Brudenall, IBA, Dr Rebecca Devitt, IBA,  Anne Redman, CIRCA and  Sonya Pearce, UTS


Indigenous enterprises play a critical role in Indigenous economic, social and cultural development; and are located in an amazing variety of business types. This study involved a series of in-depth interviews with the owners of Indigenous business followed by a large-scale survey of Indigenous enterprise owners across Australia.

The results from the study suggest that community/cooperative owned enterprises are outperforming privately owned businesses in terms of the Growth Index, sales revenue and employment. However like urban businesses, a higher proportion of privately-owned businesses are reporting increased sales and profit. Interestingly, remote enterprises are achieving the highest levels of business performance, though a higher proportion of urban businesses are reporting increased sales and profit.

Almost all businesses expressed overall satisfaction with their achievements in running the business although not all of them are making a profit. Indigenous culture both enables and constrains Indigenous business success. Indigenous entrepreneurs who operate private enterprises, community-owned enterprises or co-operatives are motivated to achieve income and opportunity not only for themselves, but for their family and their community.

Indigenous entrepreneurs also put a high value on serving community needs. Business networks are very important for growth of Indigenous businesses; however their importance differs according to the type of network, the age of the business and the gender of the entrepreneur. Access to finance was one of two perceived challenges related to business activities (the other was promotions and marketing) - many Indigenous entrepreneurs are not seeking loans because of a perceived likely lack of success. Past and existing policy support for Indigenous entrepreneurs serves the needs of already large and successful Indigenous enterprises, Indigenous entrepreneurs in remote regions face the biggest constraints. Two specific disadvantaged groups of businesses identified in this research are female-run businesses and those located in remote areas.


Five conference papers have been completed including:

Krivokapic-Skoko, B., Trudgett, T., Pearce, S., Morrison, M., Collins, J. & Basu, PK.  'Doing ethnographic fieldwork amongst Indigenous entrepreneurs in Australia', 2013 European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium, 4-6 July, Montreal, 2013.

Krivokapic-Skoko, B., Trudgett, T., Pearce, S., Morrison, M., Collins, J. & Basu, PK.  'Understanding the Australian Indigenous Entrepreneur through Narratives',2013 European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies (ECRM) 4-5 July, Guimaraes, Portugal, 2013

A book chapter has been accepted and several journal papers are being finalized.

Final Report Prepared for the Australian Research Council and Indigenous Business Australia, December 2014
Executive Summary PDF
Full Report PDF


The study will help stakeholders better understand the challenges facing Indigenous enterprises in various geographic, economic and social settings. Importantly, the findings will help policymakers develop strategies to improve the uptake and success rate of Indigenous enterprises. 
Prof Mark Morrison
Charles Sturt University – Bathurst

February 2015