Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 104, Issue 2, pp 223–235 | Cite as

Wise Up: Creating Organizational Wisdom Through an Ethic of Kaitiakitanga

  • Chellie Spiller
  • Edwina Pio
  • Lijijana Erakovic
  • Manuka Henare


Organizations are searching for innovative business approaches that deliver profits and create shared value for all stakeholders. We show what can be learned from the relational wisdom approach of Indigenous Māori and reframe the prevailing economic argument that has seen companies profit and prosper at the expense of communities and ecologies. We develop an ethic of kaitiakitanga model premised on Māori values which holds the potential to enrich and further humanize our understanding of business. The Māori economy is a globally connected, prosperous, and profitable sector of the New Zealand economy. By drawing on Māori values, we present a wisdom position through an ethic of kaitiakitanga or stewardship to emphasize and illustrate the interconnectedness of life in a woven universe. Through practicing kaitiakitanga, organizations can build businesses where wisdom is consciously created through reciprocal relationships. In this worldview of business, humans are stewards endowed with a mandate to use the agency of their mana (spiritual power, authority, and sovereignty) to create mauri ora (conscious well-being) for humans and ecosystems—and this commitment extends to organizations.


Ethics Indigenous Maori Stewardship Values Well-being Wisdom 



We acknowledge with thanks Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, the centre for Maori research excellence, for their financial support. We would also like to thank the editors of the Journal of Business Ethics and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments; Pro-Vice Chancellor Maori, Dr. Pare Keiha, for his mentorship; and Isaac Pio and Dr Rodger Spiller for their steadfast encouragement.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chellie Spiller
    • 1
  • Edwina Pio
    • 2
  • Lijijana Erakovic
    • 1
  • Manuka Henare
    • 1
  1. 1.Management and International BusinessUniversity of Auckland Business SchoolAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of Business & LawAUT UniversityAucklandNew Zealand

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