Rethinking Economic Strategies for First Nations in Canada: Incorporating Traditional Knowledge into Governance Practices

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Nelson, Rodney Lee




Abstract: Can Indigenous businesses operate within a capitalist system while maintaining Indigenous traditional values? If so, what model of business governance would promote this balance? This thesis examines how First Nations peoples in Canada can combine their traditional knowledge with conventional corporate governance to effectively create a governance model of business management. In a post-colonial state, can First Nations businesses maintain traditional values and teachings, such as maintaining a balance (only taking what is needed) and reciprocity while engaging in capitalism? If so, what would this model of business look like from a corporate board perspective? The premise of this research is that traditional knowledge can be an important aspect of Indigenous corporate governance. The objective of this work is to explore the concept of an integrated approach to governance and First Nations’ traditional teachings to create a new model of governance more suited to First Nations businesses. This model of governance combines two systems of governance to produce a new system that is appropriate to First Nation ventures. This research provides a practical approach for interpreting and applying traditional knowledge and governance to create a responsive form of First Nations corporate governance that can impact strategic development and guide the decision-making processes for boards of directors, which govern First Nations businesses. The development of such a model is not only important to the success of Indigenous businesses in Canada but is essential to reducing poverty and the cycle of dependency on government subsidies. Lastly, the use of traditional teachings as foundations for governance may also enhance economic sustainability and self-determination for First Nations communities.


Native American Studies
Canadian Studies
Business Administration




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Canadian Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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