Towards a parsimonious model for pension communication

In this paper we analyze the goals of pension communication. First, we examine the goals mentioned in policy documents and second, we derive communication goals from the actual communication practices of pension organizations by means of Functional Analysis. Media Synchronicity Theory is used to analyze the fit between goals and media. We found an amazingly large set of 433 goals for pension communication in the communication practices of pension organizations and grouped these under six main goals. These main goals were inspired by ‘mandatory goals’ derived from policy documents. We argue that two of these mandatory goals are disputable: (1) the goal participants are able to assess whether at the moment of retirement their pension will be sufficient is relevant, but can only be realized in interaction with pension participants and should not be obligatory for each pension organization; (2) the goal participants are able to compare pension regulations may also be relevant, but can perhaps better be realized by independent actors. Furthermore, too many pension communication goals are realized by several (legally required) media. This may lead to information overload and selection problems. The paper concludes with a more parsimonious model for pension communication, with a principled distribution of communication goals over media.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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