Original Research

South African pension fund conversions: Dealing with environmental change

D. T. George, R. J.O. Joubert
Acta Commercii | Vol 7, No 1 | a46 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v7i1.46 | © 2007 D. T. George, R. J.O. Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 December 2007 | Published: 05 December 2007

About the author(s)

D. T. George, City Councillor Johannesburg & RJO Joubert, University of South Africa, South Africa
R. J.O. Joubert, City Councillor Johannesburg & RJO Joubert, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyse South African pension fund conversions from defined benefit to defined contribution structures and to develop a model for dealing with environmental change.

Design/Methodology/Approach: Qualitative research methodology was used. Industry experts were interviewed to obtain a macro view of the phenomenon and specific manifestations of the phenomenon were also considered in case studies.Feedback from semi-structured interviews was categorised into several emergent themes. Within-case and cross-case analyses were conducted. Findings: Results indicated that an environmental shock exerted a substantial influence on the course of events. Under these:

  • Various factors combined to drive organisational evolution (i.e. adaptation to the environment).
  • Adaptation speed was inappropriate and exceeded that which was required for sufficient thought.
  • Uncertainty and vacuum circumstances arose leading to consequences that require redress.
  • The relative power of the stakeholders changed and influenced the strategic outcome.
  • An imbalance in stakeholder interests arose and ethical factors became consequential.
  • Business acted to restore certainty for itself.

Implications: This paper provides insight into organisational behaviour during periods of environmental shock. Environmental shock can be defined as "a condition that arises where business or societal rules are inadequate, or do not exist, to deal with unfolding events". An environmental shock has greater magnitude than a competitive shock, and can include several competitive shocks.

Originality/Value: Analysis of pension fund conversions revealed organisational behaviour during periods of environmental shock and the emerging model can be applied in other instances of environmental shock, such as broad-based black economic empowerment (B-B BEE), land redistribution, sanctions and constitutional development.


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