Braiding together student and supervisor aspirations in a struggle to decolonize

Matt Scobie, Bill Lee, Stewart Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we explore a student-supervisor relationship and the development of relational and reflexive research identities as joint actions towards decolonising management knowledge and practice. We frame a specific case of PhD supervision through he awa whiria the braided rivers metaphor, which emerges from Māori traditions. This metaphor recognizes a plurality of knowledge streams that can start from different sources, converge, braid, and depart again, from the mountains to the sea. In this metaphor, each stream maintains its own autonomy and authority, but knowledge is created at an interface in partnership. We use this framing metaphor to illustrate the tensions between co-creating knowledge with an Indigenous community that a research student has kinship ties with and feels a strong affinity to, and navigating the institutional requirements for a PhD within a UK university. We surface two contributions that open up future possibilities for supervision, research and practice. The first is the use of the metaphor to frame the studentsupervisor partnership and strategies for decolonising management knowledge more broadly. The second is the requirement for relational and reflexive research identities in decolonising management knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Article number857-875
Pages (from-to)857-875
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Decolonizing management knowledge
  • Indigenous
  • Māori
  • Ngāi Tahu
  • reflexivity
  • supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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