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This article bridges a gap in the literature by considering the application of a whole of government approach to indigenous issues in advanced economy societies. It highlights that indigenous disadvantage may be considered one of the 'wicked problems' to which whole of government approaches are best suited. Using the example of capacity building initiatives targeting indigenous peoples, it documents the mixed records of the New Zealand and Australian governments regarding whole of government coordination and collaboration. The article argues that a whole of government approach to capacity building allowed indigenous New Zealanders and Australians to develop their corporate governance capabilities. But conceptual limitations saw the notion of whole of government being used more as a management tool than an instrument of governance that could potentially address the long-standing political claims of indigenous New Zealanders and Australians. As a result, the jurisdictional governance issues central to indigenous desires for greater devolution of decision-making authority were not adequately addressed. In concluding that the whole of government represents yet another example of a generic policy discourse being applied to indigenous peoples, the article indicates that the relative disadvantage they face remains unlikely to be resolved until a conceptual framework for whole of government is developed which accounts for indigenous cultural and political specificity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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