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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Supporting Entrepreneurship in Sami Areas – Between State Policy and Local Co-participation

Comparative Politics
Policy Implementation
Vigdis Nygaard
Northern Research Institute - NORUT
Vigdis Nygaard
Northern Research Institute - NORUT
Line Mathisen
Northern Research Institute - NORUT

In the mainly rural Sami area, there is a need to develop new strategies for growth and future value creation in existing and new industries. However, despite institutional efforts to address growth in Sami area in different ways, they are still marked by weak entrepreneurship and lack of business-research collaboration for stimulating creative and innovative industrial processes. Many challenges to the adoption of a general approach to regional value creation is linked to the particularities of the Sami culture. For instance, national interests and global industries, e.g. resource intensive industries, are challenging Samis’ perceptions of natural resource guardianship and long-term value creation. This portrays the nation state as challenging the Sami way of living and can contribute to maintain discourses and perceptions of the Sami as a decolonized people. Further, this highlights the need for more knowledge on regional value creation, in particular on the interplay between the top-down national/global perspective and bottom-up local perspective.
To address this gap, this paper aims at gaining in depth understanding of the economic framework shaping Sami entrepreneurs’ thoughts and actions, and especially the policy shaping the economic framework and therefore entrepreneurial scope of action. By economic framework, we understand both general economic policy for small-scale businesses in rural areas, as well at the possibility to obtain support for developing businesses and networks with a Sami content in Sami areas. To gain a wider understanding that might aid policy makers and Sami entrepreneurs, we will compare conditions for economic support among Sami entrepreneurs in Norway and Sweden, one outside and the other inside the EU-financial system. Compared to other indigenous people, the Sami in Norway and Sweden are relatively well protected by national laws. Nevertheless, the Sami struggle to maintain their commercial and cultural interests in the face of global and national interests.
Thus, we ask in our paper to what extent national financial instruments enhance or restrain scope of entrepreneurship in Sami areas. One important question is; can the scope of the financial instruments and policy towards entrepreneurship in Sami Areas be changed to better catch the needs of the business, if so how? To address this question, we will use data obtained from a survey and personal interviews amongst Sami entrepreneurs and key individuals designing financial and supportive instruments for this particular target group. The Sami entrepreneurs are an important source of information, because of their personal knowledge as users of the system. Therefore, we also seek to establish a dialogue with the Sami entrepreneurs involved in our study. Involving Sami entrepreneurs more actively in research that include indigenous perspectives, can contribute to address the challenges of decolonized research within political science.
This paper presents the novel and preliminary results from a Norwegian- Swedish comparative research project on Sami entrepreneurs and research collaboration.
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