Help Members Adapt to a Changing World

Changing World May 20, 2020 By: Emily Rabbitt, CAE

Major shifts in the global economy and international power dynamics will continue to change the way associations and their members operate. ASAE ForesightWorks research points to ways associations can prepare themselves for the changes already underway and still to come.

The global business landscape is changing. Trade policies for the United States and the European Union are forecast to have a high degree of uncertainty through at least 2021, and both the United States and Europe are on a trajectory toward a relative decline in power, according to ASAE ForesightWorks. 

These shifts will affect associations across diverse functions, including international membership, standard-setting, and advocacy. The ForesightWorks “Trade in Transition” and “Global Power Shifts” action briefs offer points for consideration and action by association leaders.

Trends to Watch

Growing economies like China and India are continuing to rise as global economic powers. At the same time, nations are less inclined toward international cooperation. Brexit and the United States’ withdrawals from trade agreements predict a shift toward bilateral rather than multilateral trade agreements. Challenges to traditional democracy across the world, and the rise of countries like China and Russia, will contribute to growing political instability.

Declining interest in global cooperation could pose problems, particularly for associations and industries that operate internationally. International associations could face disruption to the global supply chain and reduced markets for standard-setting and accreditation. Rules regarding trade, telecommunications, and banking are likely to change.

What Associations Can Do

Information is an association’s greatest asset in this environment. Tracking geopolitical and economic changes will ensure that guidance provided to members is relevant and applicable.

Consider partnerships and other types of coalition-building as part of your advocacy efforts. For international associations, partnerships with in-country organizations can strengthen local relationships. Shifting power structures may create vacuums where associations can assert themselves in agenda- and rule-making. By being mindful of where those opportunities may emerge, leaders may be able to shape beneficial policies for the industries they represent.

Even if your organization isn’t operating globally, resist the temptation to ignore global shifts. You may not need to act immediately, but the developing changes will likely affect everyone.

Emily Rabbitt, CAE

Emily Rabbitt, CAE, is a former manager of research content and knowledge resources for the ASAE Foundation.