The creation of sustainable competitive advantage through a learning organisation : a focus on Sanlam Broker Services North
De Robillard, Carin Marisa
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The insurance industry has been going through turbulent times in the last couple of years. The mature industry, vanilla products, small margins, legislation and fierce competition have taken its toll. Mergers, take-overs, joint ventures and partnerships are all strategic alliances to stay competitive in a market where only the strongest will survive. However, organisations also constantly need to take a critical look at the way they conduct their core business in a quest to gain competitive advantage. Sustainable competitive advantage may be achieved through innovation, value chain improvement, lower costs than rivals, or, as research would have it, through the establishing of a learning organisation. One of the distribution channels within Sanlam namely Sanlam Broker Services has been selected as part of this research to achieve the objective of this script. A group of its external partners or clients, ABSA Private Bank wealth planners were also part of this study to gain an understanding of a learning organisation from an external perspective. 'This study will focus briefly on the 2007 strategy for Sanlam Broker Services North and its concentration on "business building". A literature review was conducted to provide an appropriate theoretical framework on which to base the practical considerations forming the basis of the study. This study revealed the success factors and elements critical in the creation of a learning organisation. This was followed by an empirical study of the state of competitive advantage and a learning organisation within Sanlam Broker Services North. The Sanlam Broker consultants in Sanlam Broker Services North as well as their clients, the ABSA wealth planners in the ABSA Private Bank Northern region were interviewed. The objective was to achieve both an external and an internal perspective on all the issues. This was followed by an analysis of the findings of the empirical research compared to the findings of the literature research. Logical conclusions were drawn from the research and literature in an effort to reach the objectives and ancillary objectives of the script. The findings were summarised and a possible action plan for the implementation of a learning organisation was presented to the executive management of Sanlam Broker Services North.