Special Issue on Indigenous Knowledge, Priorities, and Processes in Qualitative Research

Journal of Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

Deadline for Submission: 31st May 2018

Thematic Focus of Special Issue

During the past decade, there have been important contributions to qualitative research methodologies for research in Indigenous contexts. Alongside the emergence of Indigenous ethics review boards in institutions, scholars have suggested ethical frameworks for research with Indigenous peoples (for example, Ellis and Earley 2006 on issues of consent and reciprocity). Increasingly, researchers are engaging in applied research that is useful to the communities involved, employing action research methods to solve problems (see Carpenter and McMurchy-Pilkington 2008). Relationships between researchers and research participants are being challenged and redefined, empowering Indigenous peoples to collect, analyze, interpret, and control research data instead of participating in projects as “subjects” (see Tomlins Jahnke and Gillies 2012). Indigenous ways of knowing, embedded in oral traditions, are informing research design and implementation, as well as the communication of research results, for example, through digital storytelling (Cunsolo Willox et al. 2012; Wachowich and Scobie 2010; Marsh 2009). These shifting orientations and approaches respond to calls by Indigenous advocates and communities for the decolonization of institutions of higher education and research methodologies employed by academics in their work with Indigenous peoples (Mihesuah 1998; Tuhiwai Smith 1999; Brown and Strega 2005; Wilson 2009; Chilisa 2012; Battiste 2013; Strega and Brown 2015).

Business scholars Weir and Wuttunee (2004), alongside their peers in the humanities and social sciences, have observed that the data collection undertaken in Indigenous communities and organizations rarely benefitted Indigenous peoples. Consequently, Hindle and Moroz asserted (based on Schnarch 2004) that Indigenous research requires “Methodologies . . . built upon frameworks grounded within long standing Indigenous knowledge management techniques, ensuring ownership, control, access and possession” (2010: 376). Indigenous researchers will make an important contribution to the burgeoning discipline of Indigenous business through expert knowledge in research design and implementation, as well as advocacy (Hindle and Moroz 2010: 376-77). While culturally-responsive and -sensitive research protocols are needed to advance the study of business, entrepreneurship, and management in Indigenous contexts (Kayseas et al. 2008), the value of Indigenous knowledges and perspectives in diverse business contexts is increasingly being recognized (Love and Tilley 2014: 35-6) and may inform new theoretical perspectives and practical approaches.

Internationally, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, self-governance, and organizational structures in support of these rights. Importantly, article 31 states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions (2008:11).

This special issue invites submissions on qualitative research in organizations and management with a focus on Indigenous knowledge and research methodologies. Authors are encouraged to critically reflect on 1) the processes and activities of qualitative research in Indigenous contexts, 2) Indigenous approaches to research design and implementation, and 3) the challenges and opportunities resulting from Indigenous research strategies, with the objective of reconceptualizing current approaches to qualitative research through an Indigenous lens. Submissions that engage with innovative approaches and demonstrate the practice or mobilization of Indigenous knowledge in organizations and management are particularly welcome.

Papers that advance knowledge and theory of qualitative research in organizations and management may address one of more of the following topics:

  • Indigenous ethics processes (community or Nation); consultation and consent processes; applicability of university ethics processes
  • Research agendas and priorities (including expectations related to time and process); community control over research; community priorities; community protocols
  • Community-based versus community-led research
  • Roles of the academy in Indigenous research
  • Indigenous knowledge and worldview in research; formal and informal Indigenous leaders; Elders; knowledge bearers
  • Indigenous research methodologies and practices (including cross-cultural comparisons and differences within Indigenous nations and populations)
  • Indigenous review and interpretation of findings
  • Strategies for representing Indigenous collaborators and Indigenous voices
  • Gender and the research process; gendered structures and their relationships to Indigenous knowledge acquisition and transmission, and research methodologies
  • Terminology and naming practices
  • Ownership of research and data; knowledge production; publishing and sharing; impact and purpose; data sovereignty as a growing movement
  • The applicability of Indigenous knowledge principles to qualitative research in organizations and management (examples include Two-Eyed Seeing [Hatcher et al. 2009]; the Mauri Model [Morgan, et. al, 2012]; and the Spider Conceptual Framework [Lambert, 2014]).
  • Research capacity development, both in Indigenous communities and among non-Indigenous researchers
  • Story as research; how narratives and traditional knowledge are understood; the authority ascribed to narratives and traditional knowledge compared to other types of knowledge; history, oral history, and historiography as they relate to understandings of Indigenous knowledge, priorities, and processes

About the Special Issue Editors

Janice Esther Tulk (PhD) is Senior Research Associate for the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies at Cape Breton University. Tulk has fifteen years of experience conducting qualitative research in collaboration with Indigenous partners. For the past six years, she has researched best practices in Aboriginal business, particularly in Unama’ki (Cape Breton). Tulk has published articles on the Membertou business model, the Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office, and Aboriginal mentorship in business, and is currently engaged in research on Indigenous tourism. She is co-editor of Indigenous Business in Canada: Principles and Practices (2016).


Rachel Starks (MA), a researcher and PhD student in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, has over a decade of experience studying Native governance and social and economic development. She has participated in research on per capita distributions of tribal revenue, comparing the tribal economic changes from 1990-2000 using the U.S. Census, Native arts leaderships, tribes on the U.S. borders, asset building, tribal justice systems, Native control of health care, tribal child welfare law, First Nations land management, and Indigenous rural economic development in Alberta, Canada. She has most recently published on tribes and international borders in Native Nations and U.S. Borders: Responding to Challenges to Indigenous Culture, Citizenship, and Security, and has authored chapters in edited volumes on U.S.-Mexico border issues.



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