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Time to Speak up and Be Heard, Procurement!
In my PI Window on Business Podcast this week (listen here), I shared audio of Mark Hager, an author and a professor at Arizona State University, talking about why people join professional associations and how that is changing.
The interview was loosely based on a paper he wrote on the same subject (you can read it here) and which digs deeper into the idea of private (individual) versus public (collective) motivations for joining an association.
This is a timely topic for two reasons, the obvious one is that the industry is fresh off of an impressive conference marking ISM’s 100th year in operation – an amazing milestone to be sure. The other reason is more troubling, and that is the results of the research Jon has been doing into the finances of the not-for-profit professional associations in the procurement space. It would be an understatement to say that things are not looking good. ISM, CIPS, and NIGP are all on uncertain financial footing, and if you are interested you can find the details behind that generalization on Procurement Insights.
In an exchange with Hager about the paper, interview, and podcast (thank goodness for the equalizing force of Twitter) I had the opportunity to ask him what he sees as the future of professional associations – in procurement or otherwise.
Here is our exchange:
@BuyersMeetPoint: Your paper on prof assoc is fascinating. Particularly de Tocqueville's 'enlightened self-interest'
@MHager_ASU: Noticed you'd focused there in your podcast. Many people will say that all interest = self-interest. Maybe something to it!
@BuyersMeetPoint: Seems particularly relevant to variations in generations - Millennials seem naturally 'de Tocquevillian' in their motivations.
@MHager_ASU: I'll guess it won't play out that way. Millennials particularly let down by capitalism, will translate into collectivism.
@BuyersMeetPoint: Do you have any research on the financial stability of not for profit prof assoc or the viability of the model going forward?
@MHager_ASU: No, no study. But member associations bucked the post-WW2 trend in disengagement, and I expect that continues indefinitely.
In a separate exchange involving Jon Hansen (@piblogger1) he also noted…
@MHager_ASU: I think watchdogs are really valuable. But I fear that members care nothing about internal operations of assns.
Maybe it is just me, but I think that’s sad. I’m not saying everyone has to pour over the annual reports from their professional association as soon as they come out, but if you see value in a professional association – whether it is individual or collective value – shouldn’t you be willing to stand up and fight for it to make sure it stays around?
LinkedIn is great and all, but it falls short of an opportunity to bring members of a profession together, either locally or nationally, to learn from each other and improve the reputation of the field. Don’t you think? What will happen if the associations fall away, either because of financial reasons or because they can’t survive the changing priorities of an evolving workforce?