In the wake of the deregulation of the financial sector in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s the life insurance industry has undergone a period of rapid change and reorganisation. Part of this adjustment has been the move towards the integration of financial service provision and the rise of bancassurance. This paper investigates the strategies adopted by Australian life insurers as they moved into the increasingly competitive environment triggered by the lifting of government restrictions on banking practices. It compares the approach of life insurers with that adopted in an earlier period of expansion and change. During the 1950s and 1960s an influx of foreign owned insurance companies into the Australian market precipitated the diversification of domestic life insurers into other insurance markets. The catalyst for change in both cases was the change in information costs brought about by the change in the competitive environment. The experience of the Australian life insurance market would suggest that there is a link between changing information costs and changing organisational structures. However this link is circumscribed by the institutional environment.
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