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The Power Play Behind Global Strategy

Associations need partners to succeed internationally

Association leaders can rattle off a whole host of reasons why their organization is skittish about going global. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. It can be a slog to get the board behind it. It’s hard to identify KPIs, especially early in the process.

That’s all true—and much-discussed. But another factor seems to be just as crucial, but less appreciated: Going global means rethinking how your association looks at power and control, because the task likely demands ceding some of it.

The 2017 ASAE Foundation report, Association Global Maturity: Critical Actions for Successful International Growth, used a survey to explore a number of critical factors that are relevant to an association’s readiness to expand overseas. Interestingly, the area where respondents were weakest was “empowerment of local management.” As the report puts it: “Associations that are new to international operations might struggle to define when management in local markets could and should make executive decisions. Some associations might also strategically choose to filter all decision through headquarters to ensure continuity. However, this approach can be detrimental, as there is a risk of members/customers not receiving enough timely local support and for decisions from headquarters not being relevant or customized enough for local market needs.”

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