Business rescue decision making through verifier determinants – ask the specialists

Marius Pretorius, Gert Holtzhauzen


Orientation: Business rescue has become a critical part of business strategy decision making, especially during economic downturns and recessions. Past legislation has generally supported creditor-friendly regimes, and its mind-set still applies which increases the difficulty of such turnarounds. There are many questions and critical issues faced by those involved in rescue. Despite extensive theory in the literature on failure, there is a void regarding practical verifiers of the signs and causes of venture decline, as specialists are not forthcoming about what they regard as their “competitive advantage”.

Research purpose: This article introduces the concept and role of “verifier determinants” of early warning signs, as a tool to confirm the causes of decline in order to direct rescue strategies and, most importantly, reduce time between the first observation and the implementation of the rescue. Motivation for the study: Knowing how specialist practitioners confirm causes of business decline could assist in deciding on strategies for the rescue earlier than can be done using traditional due diligence which is time consuming. Reducing time is a crucial element of a successful rescue.

Research design and approach: The researchers interviewed specialist practitioners with extensive experience in rescue and turnaround. An experimental design was used to ensure the specialists evaluated the same real cases to extract their experiences and base their decisions on. Main findings: The specialists confirmed the use of verifier determinants and identified such determinants as they personally used them to confirm causes of decline. These verifier determinants were classified into five categories; namely, management, finance, strategic, banking and operations and marketing of the ventures under investigation. The verifier determinants and their use often depend heavily on subconscious (non-factual) information based on previous experiences, rendering them “irrational” in modern management perspectives.

Practical/Managerial implications: Decision makers and affected persons could benefit from the insights obtained through this study. Confirming early warning signs through verifier determinants would be beneficial for entrepreneurs who are creditors, rescue practitioners, government regulators, court officials and educators alike.

Contribution/Value add: Knowing the verifier determinants could assist decision making and improve the effectiveness of rescue strategies.

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Submitted: 01 November 2012
Published: 29 November 2013

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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences    |    ISSN: 1015-8812 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2222-3436 (ONLINE)