Having recently finished a year on sabbatical, I have been spending a bit of time thinking about the research and teaching opportunities that are emerging for me since I returned to Aotearoa. I was reminded of two different ways of seeing opportunities as “the space in between”. The first is from “The Book of Fame”, Lloyd Jones fictionalised account of the 1905 All Black tour of Great Britain. These “Originals” were so innovative in the way they played rugby when compared to the opposition. This is how Jones describes their style:
“how we think
The [opposition] saw a thing
we saw the space in-between
The [opposition] saw a tackler
we saw space either side
The [opposition] saw an obstacle
We saw an opportunity. ” (Jones, 2000, p. 75)
This idea of “the space in-between” also appears in work on Maori entrepreneurship that has occupied my thinking for the past few years. Working with colleagues, we have drawn on Takarangi – the double spiral of creativity – as an organizing framework. We see opportunity and heritage coming together as a double spiral, a dance of innovation where opportunities emerge, guided and informed by heritage. And again, it is “the space in between” where potential emerges.
From this I have been drawn to reflect again on the concept of liminal space: a place of transition, where there is no one answer, where we wait, sit with ambiguity, aware of the potential and possibility not yet realized – a “finger tip feel” away. I realized this describes the research and teaching process that I often engage with as an academic – not quite knowing where or how it will end, only that the journey will be an engaging and exciting one. And as my career continues I am more and more comfortable with this liminal academic space and the opportunities that emerge from “the space in between”.
Finally, I reflected on how much I am enjoying a “Takarangi” process as a Pakeha researcher working with indigenous PhDs. These boundary pushing scholars who draw from heritages that are different from mine, who see intellectual opportunities that have meaning and relevance to their people – who struggle in the liminal space, impatient, seeking answers that can only be found through uncertainty. Yet their desire to locate themselves as scholars with purpose for their people will enables them to find answers and then see more opportunities as they transition through this space. And my part in this double spiral? Well, I’ll just wait for another invitation to contribute to this blog to answer that one …
by Chris Woods
You can find more fantastic blogs from Chris at Thinking About Entrepreneurship