The globalization of financial markets over the past decade has focused the spotlight on the responsiveness of financial firms to international pressures. Insurance markets have traditionally relied on global networks not only to expand the insurers' sphere of influence but also to support domestic business. Until relatively recently, Australian insurance companies have not played a significant role in the development of international markets. However, in the last decade of the twentieth century Australian insurers ventured overseas on a scale without precedence. This article presents an historical perspective on the internationalization of the Australian life-insurance market with a view to understanding why these firms have been classified “late starters” in the internationalization stakes. In a broader capacity it provides insights into the impediments to overseas expansion and the forces encouraging or discouraging the development of cross border networks.
MONICA KENELEY is professor in finance at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. She has published in the area of business and insurance history. The focus of her research has been on the impacts of financial deregulation, the nature of organizational change, and adaptive and innovative responses to change. The emphasis of this analysis has been on insurance markets within the context of the broader financial sector. She has published in journals such as Business History, Australian Economic History Review, Labor History, and Accounting History.