Original Research

Investigating tensions experienced by decision-makers during a business rescue event

Andria C. du Toit, Marius Pretorius
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 15, No 1 | a714 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v15i1.714 | © 2023 Andria C. du Toit, Marius Pretorius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 February 2023 | Published: 31 August 2023

About the author(s)

Andria C. du Toit, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Marius Pretorius, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Practice has shown that decision-makers experience various tensions during a business rescue event, which adds to the complexity of their decision-making. Even though business rescue has been operational for more than a decade, decision-makers require training and development beyond the scope of the legal and finance realms to cope with the related tensions.

Aim: This study endeavoured to report on the tensions experienced by decision-makers, classify them into puzzles, dilemmas, trade-offs and/or paradoxes, and to identify practical responses to the most commonly experienced tensions.

Setting: The study was conducted in South Africa and made use of decision-makers in the field of business rescue.

Methods: An interpretative phenomenological analysis was completed using 12 exceptionally experienced decision-makers. A multi-method approach was employed using in-depth interviews and follow-up questionnaires, validated with the literature after the completion of a pre-test.

Results: Findings reported 16 major tensions, consisting of one puzzle, two dilemmas, four trade-offs and nine paradoxes with appropriate responses used in practice by participants.

Conclusion: Significant findings include the differentiation in response to tensions based on the level of sophistication of stakeholders involved, the implementation of a team approach to decision-making and the use of empathy to decrease tension.

Contribution: An insider’s perspective is provided into tensions experienced during a business rescue event, which may assist in the training of novice decision-makers. Participants used anecdotal evidence to verbalise their approaches and/or strategies to managing tension, which can be dissected and used to collate shared practice among decision-makers.


business rescue; tension; puzzles; dilemma; trade-off; paradox; response.

JEL Codes

M19: Other

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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Crossref Citations

1. Using practitioners’ voices in developing a business rescue practitioner expert profile
Onesmus Ayaya
Journal of Management and Business Education  vol: 7  issue: 2  year: 2024  
doi: 10.35564/jmbe.2024.0016