An exploration of female employees' pension engagement as an ecosystem set within a large organisation
Shaw, Kitty Margaret
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This thesis explores female employees’ pension engagement, which is conceptualised as their active involvement in decision making. This is important because the shift from final salary towards defined contributions pension products moves responsibility for decision making and investment risk from employer to employee, while at the same time while automatic enrolment has led to inertia. Furthermore, women are consistently reported as less engaged and achieving poorer pension outcomes than men. Taking an ecosystem perspective, the thesis explores engagement of the individual set within the meso-level of the Employer and macro-level of pension regulation and applies the theoretical framework of structure, culture and agency. A case study was conducted within a large financial services organisation, applying Practice Theory as a lens to understand pension engagement in the context of workplace marketing practice. This involved 47 interviews with female employees and those managing the pension, documentary analysis, observations of meetings, and a communications audit. The thesis contributes to the theorisation of pension engagement by developing and modelling an engagement ecosystem which identifies the interaction of structural and cultural influences across the macro, meso and micro-levels of the ecosystem which female employees encounter, shaping their pension narratives and influencing variations in engagement. The employer/employee relationship is identified as critical as the pension engagement interface encompassing specific affective mechanisms. The thesis contributes to the marketing discipline by providing an empirically derived model of engagement; improving understanding of workplace marketing and the influence of the workplace as a consumption context; and categorising a new system of market practices for pension engagement. Recommendations are made for policy developments at the macro-level and for improvements to workplace pension marketing to enable more female employees achieve better retirement outcomes.