NMSU Researcher Finds Tribal Wisdom: Business Ethics More Related Than They Seem

November 24, 2013

By Amanda Bradford, Las Cruces News

Excerpt: Relationships. Sharing. Trust. Usefulness. These are some of the attributes that are highly valued in indigenous cultures. Meanwhile, recent headlines outside these tribal communities too often relate tales of how some business leaders have breached the public trust and prioritized personal gain rather than helping others.

But research going on in New Mexico State University's College of Business has shown that commonalities do exist between business ethics and tribal wisdom.

Grace Ann Rosile is studying how Native American tribal values can be applied in today's business world. Today, technology has created a "global village" and these ancient ethical perspectives, which come from tribal communities, suddenly seem relevant again.

Rosile, an associate professor of management at NMSU's College of Business, has been a Daniels Fund Ethics fellow since 2010, when the university received a $1.25 million grant to develop a principle-based ethics program over five years. The grant is part of the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, with a goal to strengthen principle-based ethics education and foster a high standard of ethics in young people.

In the paper, "Comparing Daniels Principles of Business Ethics and Tribal Ethics," Rosile and her co-authors, NMSU colleagues Don Pepion, associate professor of anthropology and a member of the Blackfeet Tribe; David Boje, business professor; and Joe Gladstone, assistant professor of public health administration and member of the Blackfeet and Nez Perce tribes, identified "Eight Aspects of Tribal Wisdom for Business Ethics."

• Relationships: Relationships are of primary importance and the key to survival.

• Gifting rather than getting: Giving is valued and conveys higher status than getting.

• Non-acquisitiveness: The wealth economy discourages hoarding because there is "enough," and sharing and gifting is more important.

• Usefulness: Use is more important than possession, thus community property is common.

• Egalitarianism over hierarchy: Equality of voice contributes to consensus and unity.

• Trust: Trust is the foundation for good relationships and is highly valued.

• Disclosure: Trading partners volunteer information to build relationships.

• Barter systems: Barter emphasizes usefulness of goods rather than accumulation.

Rosile worked with local filmmakers to produce a 30-minute video that explores some of the common themes that unite business ethics and tribal ethics. The "Tribal Wisdom for Business Ethics" film is an effective teaching and outreach tool, she said, because it presents traditional ideas from an indigenous perspective...

Read the article.

Join the Network    
Users are able to post wisdom-related news & publications, maintain a profile, and participate in discussion forums.