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Management in the millennium -- traditional ecological knowledge (TEK): a framework for sustainable business management

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1999
<mark>Journal</mark>Academy of Management Proceedings
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)A1-A6
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


As the millennium ends, ecological damage continues at an unprecedented rate and the need for sustainable management is evident. Yet managers often lack a practical template--how do they "walk the talk" of sustainability? There are not many concrete examples. However, the management practices of indigenous peoples can provide important concrete insights into the practice of sustainable management. Using ethnographic data collected on the Cree tallymen of eastern James Bay (subarctic Canada), this paper provides empirical data on a First Nations approach to sustainable management and explores "traditional ecological knowledge" (TEK) as an indigenous management system that has successfully avoided ecological collapse. Perhaps most critically, research findings indicate that a TEK-based management approach is both socially and ecologically embedded. In turn, the embeddedness of TEK gives rise to a number of key principles for sustainable management: (i) humble pragmatism, (ii) a fundamental commitment to social and ecological reciprocity, and (iii) managerial leadership is based on ecological legitimacy gained through TEK. TEK also emphasizes the need to learn how to manage sustainability from outside the organization's four walls. As the millennium draws near, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) may provide a powerful template for a sustainable future.