African Journal of
Business Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1993-8233
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJBM
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 4157

Full Length Research Paper

Context and strategy: Managing Sanlam for and in change, 1945-2013

Drotskie Adri
  • Drotskie Adri
  • Head of Research and Faculty Development, Henley Business School, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Grietjie Verhoef
  • Grietjie Verhoef
  • Department of Accountancy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 04 October 2018
  •  Accepted: 28 November 2018
  •  Published: 14 January 2019


Business sustainability of corporations a hundred years old, is not a regular occurrence in Africa. A qualitative historical study of the development of an insurance company succeeding on the trajectory of adapting to challenging context constitutes the core of this study. The historical analysis illustrates the role of social context, international political economy and management agency in negotiating a successful company to overcome contextual constraints. The South African Life Assurance Company (Sanlam) arrived at the end of the Second World War in 1945 with a basic business strategy focusing on sustaining its growth since 1918. Dynamic contextual changes mandated strategic management changes in the business focus, empowerment strategy and strategic vision of the company. This article explains how management responded to change, relying on international management practices to secure a century of African business success.


Key words: Context, sustainability, management.