Value of clustering – relates to undertaking study to identify economic value of clustering: Dampier Peninsula as the study case.
Aboriginal perspectives of enterprise clustering
Aboriginal perspectives of enterprise clustering
Dr. Damien Jacobsen
Principal Research Leader
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Product Project
Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation
Southern Cross University, Australia
What is enterprise clustering?
Clusters are ‘geographic concentrations of interconnected companies,
specialised suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries, and
associated institutions in particular fields that compete, but also co-operate’
Porter (1998, p. 197-8).
Participants are often located in the same
geographical region and interrelated by
characteristics (e.g. the landscape) or specialities.
Clusters come in all shapes and sizes
Creates value chain opportunities, as well as a
range of benefit potential highlighted in the literature
(see Michael 2003; Lade 2010;
Common features of strong enterprise clusters
Culture of creativity,
innovation and co-
Benefits to large
Diverse links to
Ability to adapt to
of doing business
Face to face
‘Bread and butter’
Access to finance
Source: Ffowcs-Williams (2012, pp.34-38)
Cluster-style approach developed or proposed around Australia, including: far
north Queensland; Arnhem Land (Northern Territory); the Fitzroy River region
(Western Australia); the Dampier Peninsula (Western Australia); Central
Australia (Northern Territory); the Darwin region (Northern Territory); and,
Outback New South Wales.
Previous study: Central Australia, applied Porter clustering approach but failed
and conceded that the model ‘…needs much more explanation and possibly
considerable modification…’ for use by Aboriginal tourism operators
(Schmiechen, James & Tremblay 2010, p. 35).
Background – why Aboriginal perspectives of clustering?
Reconceptualise Western concepts of enterprise clustering according to the
worldviews and cultural perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people involved in tourism
Purpose of the study
Decolonising research approach:
Transformative – generate
Privilege Aboriginal voice and expertise
Outcome review & approvals
Qualitative focus group: dialogue and
critical engagement with business practices
Participants: expert informants (demonstrated experience in cluster-style
Analysis: Qualitative themes
October 2014: hosted on Nykina country - Kimberley, Western Australia.
Day 1 – discuss western enterprise clustering concepts - Ffowcs-Williams
(2012). Group work – brainstorm Aboriginal enterprise clustering
Day 2: Participants reduce 141 issues/perspectives to 44
Aboriginal Tourism Enterprise Clustering Forum
Image adapted from: http://www.kimberleyaustralia.com/gibb-river-road-map.html
Domain of Trade
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander principles of enterprise
The cultural diversity of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people provides
strength to business, as well as value to the
products and experiences offered to
Correspondence with Ffowcs-Williams (2012)
Corresponding features identified by
Structured Grass Roots
Coequal Enterprise Community
Knowledge exchange through personal
Benefits to large and small enterprises
Commitment to building knowledge
Culturally Fluent Business
Culturally Grounded Objectives n/a
Localised Domain of Trade
Strong ‘brand’ attracting customers, investors
Culture of creativity, innovation and co-
Tourism System Linkages
Diverse links to wider industry
Collaboration with other clusters
Fusion of Cultural Diversity Specialisation
Culturally Appropriate Governance n/a
Centralised Cluster Management Manager/leadership
Funding Towards Capacity Access to finance
Applied contexts: Cape York, South Australia
Value of clustering
Potential for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Form and maintain enterprise clusters in culturally appropriate ways
Small operators work/walk together to alleviate marginalisation
Create better products and experiences for visitors
Build repository of Aboriginal business know-how and learning
Stronger self-representation within industry
Increase self-reliance and implement
regional approach to tourism
Challenge view that culture inhibits business
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are business people,
innovators, strategists pushing boundaries of knowledge and practice
Generate body of Aboriginal knowledge for the business of tourism
Move beyond deficit thinking
Empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as drivers of tourism
Ffowcs-Williams I (Ed). 2012. Cluster Development: The Go-To Handbook: Building Competitiveness through Smart
Specialisation. Cluster Navigators Limited: Nelson, New Zealand.
Jacobsen, D., 2016. Tourism enterprises beyond the margins: the relational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander SMEs in remote Australia. Tourism Planning & Development, pp.1-19.
Lade, C. 2010. Developing tourism clusters and networks: attitudes to competition along Australia’s Murray River. Tourism
Analysis 15, pp. 649-661.
Michael, E. J. 2003. Tourism micro-clusters. Tourism Economics, 9(2), pp. 133–145.
Porter, M.E. 1998. ‘Clusters and competition: New agendas for companies, governments, and institutions’ in On
Competition. in Porter, M. (Ed.). Harvard Business School Press. Boston.
Schmallegger, D., Carson, D. and Tremblay, P. 2010. The economic geography of remote tourism: The problem of
connection seeking. Tourism Analysis, 15 (1), pp. 127-139.
Schmiechen, J., James, D. & Tremblay, P. 2010. Learning markets and indigenous tourism: action research pilot of a
learning markets cluster in Central Australia. CRC for Sustainable Tourism Pty Ltd.