The overarching question driving this research is, what are the critical success factors for Southern Māori SMEs at the different stages of the business life-cycle? To address this question the project team will undertake an in-depth case-study of Southern SMEs and in order to answer the overarching research question, the following questions will be investigated: 1. What are the characteristics of SMEs at the different stages of the business life-cycle (start-up, growth, resource maturity, take off)? - To what extent do the stages of the business life-cycle apply to Māori SMEs and are other factors equally or more important (for example, models of intergenerational wealth, social and cultural obligations)? - How might these other factors be assessed within in a business life-cycle framework? 2. What are the critical touch-points for Māori SMEs within the framework of institutional support organisations at the different stages of business life-cycle? - What are the key agents or agencies (e.g. government, social or tribal) involved? What role do they have? At what stage do they have relevance? - What is the role of the New Zealand Innovation system in supporting Māori SMEs at the different stages? 3. What are the ‘tipping points’ between stages (i.e. moving from start-up business venture to growth phase)? - What actions and/or resources are needed to enable Māori SME transition between stages? - What barriers/challenges do Māori SMEs face at the different stages? - What opportunities exist for Māori SMEs at the different stages? 4. What actions are needed to increase the survival rates of Māori SMEs? - What are the critical incidents that can lead to higher success rates for Māori SMEs? This research will map the stages of the business life-cycle for Māori SMEs to identify critical points of intervention. Māori SMEs are a significant and critical component of the Māori economy. Recently, work has been conducted to examine Māori SMEs at the regional level. In particular, analysis offered by two recent BERL reports ‘Māori in the Taranaki Region: An Economic Profile’ (Leung-Wai & Sanderson, 2008) and ‘Situational analysis: Māori contribution and position in the Bay of Connections Economy’ (Schulze, Generosa, & Molano, 2012). The intention is to conduct an analysis of Southern (Otago, Southland and Southern Lakes) Māori SMEs that alongside these existing pieces of research contributes to a deeper understanding of Māori economic regional development in general. The goal of this research is to provide a regionally based analysis of the business life-cycle characteristics and needs of Southern Māori SMEs, and the extent to which they do or do not conform to generic SME models (Note: The Southern region is defined as the Southern part of the South Island, specifically: Otago, Southland and the Southern Lakes). In order to achieve this overarching goal, the three key objectives are: 1. to explore ownership, governance and performance characteristics of Southern Māori SMEs; 2. to map the Māori SME business life-cycle in the Southern region and to examine the frame of institutional arrangements which are mandated to support them, including the innovation system; and, 3. to shine the spotlight on regional Māori SMEs to examine their contribution to economic development and to better understand the cultural, social and economic context within which they operate.

Project commenced: