Business Associations for the 21st Century is a business association management guide developed by the Center for International Private
Enterprise (CIPE) to help business owners and managers around the world build a stronger and more favorable business climate through effective programs and the advocacy efforts of a successful business association.

Even in the most competitive environments, there are challenges and obstacles that all business owners commonly face. They can only be overcome when the business community works together.

The essence of a business association* is to help business owners overcome the challenges and obstacles they are unable to address alone. Moreover, beyond benefiting member business, associations’ work has a key multiplier effect on improving the commercial, governmental, and economic institutions of a given country.

Therefore, the importance of the role that associations play in modern economies and societies cannot be overstated. Business, trade, and professional associations in the private sector help shape economies by making them more efficient and transparent through the establishment of better regulations and standards.

Open and inclusive associations will be viewed as trustworthy and credible. It is important that they welcome members that represent potentially different points of view in order to build stronger programs and services based on cooperation and productive compromise. By working together through associations, businesses can not only better address shared problems collectively and benefit the economy but also help improve the quality of governance in their country through constructive engagement with decision-makers on policy issues. This open, transparent, and inclusive public-private dialogue plays a crucial role in the democratic development of countries.

This guide is designed to provide business associations and their leaders with some best practices and practical tools to help executives, especially those in emerging markets, run their organizations more efficiently and effectively.

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Each chapter covers a particular topic or area of competence that is crucial to creating a successful organization and includes:

  • A goal and objectives;
  • A description of the concept and examples; and
  • A checklist to help apply the concept within an organization.

This guide also includes a set of worksheets designed to help readers develop a strategy and financial plan for their organization in an easy and efficient manner. CIPE hopes that Business Associations for the 21st Century will be used as a practical resource that can be referred to often as a business association grows.

CIPE works with the business community to put real economic solutions in the hands of decision-makers and strengthen democracy around the world through private enterprise and market-oriented reform. In partnering with associations, think tanks, media groups, and other civil society organizations, CIPE brings a wealth of knowledge from over 30 years of experience having conducted 1,300 reform programs in more than 100 countries.

CIPE provides technical expertise to local partner organizations, helping build the capacity of business associations and chambers of commerce and strengthening private sector advocacy in a variety of emerging and frontier markets.

* Note: The term “association” in this book is used to designate all types of business membership organizations including chambers of commerce, trade groups, and professional societies.