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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Donna J. Hess


This was an exploratory study of successful American Indian entrepreneurs located in American Indian areas of South Dakota. The purpose of this research was to ascertain what factors are associated with successful American Indian entrepreneurialism. The data for the study were collected through brief and indepth interviews. The interview guides were centered around questions pertaining to demographic and business characteristics, personal life history, and business life history. Four theoretical perspectives, diffusion, dependency, marginal man, and learning theory, guided this research. Provision for emergent perspectives was also made. Some of the major findings were the following. On the average, entrepreneurs were found to be middle aged. Most were married with families of 5.6 members and an average of 4.2 children. The entrepreneurs averaged 12.8 years of formal education, exceeding the average of all people in the state. Most of these entrepreneurs originated from humble backgrounds and were upwardly mobile people both educationally and occupationally. These data did riot exactly fit the four theoretical perspectives guiding this research, but provided most support for the learning theory perspective. Several themes emerged from data analysis with concern for interpersonal relations most in evidence. The data revealed that these American Indian entrepreneurs 9re very people oriented, expressed great concern for their customers, and primarily engaged in service-oriented enterprises.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Indian business enterprises -- South Dakota
Entrepreneurship -- South Dakota
Indian reservations -- Economic conditions




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