• N20;
  • G22;
  • O16
  • debt markets;
  • equity markets;
  • institutional investment;
  • life insurance;
  • knowledge pathways;
  • routines

This paper considers the post-war development of asset management practices among Australian life insurers, which have historically been among the largest institutional investors in Australia. A complex process of adaptation and organisational restructuring allowed life insurers to transform from basic investors of policy-holders’ funds to large multifaceted institutional investors in just three decades. Three stages in the development of investment practices are identified. These phases trace the process of expanding existing knowledge bases; diversification; and the acquisition of new skills; consolidation and the integration of these skills into institutional structures; thus completing one cycle of organisational learning and setting the stage for the next.