Analysis of Union of International Associations
E: Clarification of Objectives and Strategy
- / -
Section of Report
of a Preliminary Investigation of the Possibility of Using Computer Data
Processing Methods (1968): a summary of the various parts of
this report, and details
of its contents (with links to the various
parts), are provided separately
In the earlier parts the environment of the UIA and its performance within
that environment have been analysed. Some possible future avenues which
the UIA could explore have been outlined. In this section, certain sets of
objectives which the UIA might consider are identified bearing in mind the
need for more precisely stated objectives as brought out by the summary of
the problems of current performance. This is necessary to maintain a coherent,
consistent program of operations.
Using a precise set of objectives and bearing in mind the complexity and
dymanic nature of its environment, the organization can set itself precise
goals. Each decision can then be taken in the light of their probable contribution
to progress towards these goals. Effective planning and control procedures
can then be set up to ensure efficient progress towards these goals.
From the analysis of the activities of the organization, it is apparent that
the major emphasis has been placed upon the documentary activity. This is justified
by the argument that the documentary activity currently contributes towards
the promotion of international cooperation. It is also essential in order that
the UIA should survive since it has no other major source of support.
There are an increasing number of organizations, commercial and other, which
are taking over parts of the UIA's documentary function. It is important to
determine whether in fact each individual publication the UIA produces, really
contributes towards the promotion of international cooperation in a significant
manner, or mainly towards the survival of the UIA as an organization. The question
is, whether the UIA is documenting in order to survive or in order to promote
It is not clear what unique function the UIA hopes to perform in the ' future
that will not be paralleled by activities of other organizations. Some studies
of formal organizations have produced tentative conclusions which are relevant
to the UIA problems of objectives and decision-making. (quoted in Miles, E.,
- when the organization goal is diffuse and difficult to achieve, survival
of the organization becomes a dominant interest in decision -- making.
- when the organization goal is diffuse, new activities will tend to be
undertaken more frequently.
- ambiguity in formal organization objectives facilitates the ability of
the leadership to develop less ambitious short-range aims reflecting modest
personal expectations of success.
- the lowest goal commonly agreed upon within the organization is the only
one that can effectively be sought over time.
- organization experience indicates those goals that can be obtained. Some
goals lose significance as a result of futile attempts at achievement. The
leadership therefore tends to seek those goals that have been successfully
implemented by the organization in the past.
- the more organizations are multi-purpose, the higher will be the internal
conflict over allocation of resources.
- the greater the free flow of ideas in the communication process, the greater
the facility in finding solutions to problems, but the more difficult coordination
These points stress the importance of adequate objectives and the necessity
for a consistent set of objectives which can be used to formulate compatible
a) Current Implicit Objectives
The UIA can continue to operate with the current objectives as implicitly
used in decision-making. The preceding analysis has shown that many of the
problems of the UIA arise from these non-explicit objectives so that
this course of action would not lead to any improvement in the situation. The
UIA's problems would not be cured by a sudden influx of funds because no proper
procedure exists for controllen the expenditure. The danger of the current
state of affairs is that it prevents the UIA from instituting procedures to
aboid being superseded by competitors.
b) Objective : UIA to be the Unique NGO Documentation Centre If the
fundamental UIA objective is stated as being "to maintain and promote
its status as the principal documentation centre on international NGOs within
the international system", a number of clear policies can be developed.
These have been noted in Exhibit
36a. Also noted in the Exhibit are the problems
which arise as a result of adopting this objective.
Adoption of this objective would mean that the promotion of international
cooperation becomes incidental. The two main problems are, firstly, that no
criterion then exists for deciding which activities should be given preference
when resources are insufficient. Secondly, there is no means of preventing
other organizations from duplicating the work. If the competition is ignored,
then the organization may find itself bypassed by a multitude of other organizations
which collectively supply the information the UIA would like to supply, but
in a much more efficient manner. The UIA would then be performing no useful
function except as a selective museum.
c) Objective ; Serve the Needs of NGOs
If the fundamental objective is stated as being "to determine and serve
the needs of NGOs within the international system" a number of clear policies
can be developed.
The main problem arising from this objective is that the UIA has not developed
the expertise for maintaining contact with NGOs in order to be sensitive to
their needs. Twenty years ago the organization was established with the title "Service
Centre for NGOs". It has not been able to maintain the links with NGOs.
Due to its history, image and concept of NGOs this might prove difficult. There
is little evidence that NGOs want to be helped.
This objective also raises the difficulties of funds. Organizations with
such objectives are generally established as membership organizations to ensure
effective contact on the problems of NGOs. The UIA would have difficulty in
generating this sort of membership, particularly if this was to be the major
form of support.
The objective also loses sight of the fact that the NGOs are only one of
many classes of organization and to an increasing extent it appears likely
that international cooperation and integration studies will emphasize the complementarity
of classes and the artificiality of rigid distinctions between them. This objective
would therefore isolate the organization from the main advances in understanding
of the world system.
d) Objective : Study the
If the fundamental objective is stated as being "to study the features
of the world system", a number of clear policies could be developed. The
main problem would be that the UIA would then be entering the field of study
of many international relations institutes and does not have the resources
to do this effectively.
Each of the above objectives result in either the continuance of the traditional
pattern of activities or an attempt to dominate or monopolize some function
within the world system. The latter is a very concrete objective but is likely
to be beyond the resorces of any small organization in the near, future. It
is also liable to antagonize the persons for which it was instituted.
Objective : Facilitate Bond Formation within the World System
If the fundamental objective is stated as being "to facilitate the formation
of bonds between bodies within the world system", the above difficulties
are avoided. Bond formation is taken to mean any activity leading to
useful contact between bodies otherwise functionally isolated by a combination
of ethnocentric and discipline centred interests.
This objective permits the UIA to adopt any program which leads to the formation
of links between bodies. It does not restrict the organization to activities
which are threatened by commercial duplication. It does not imply any attempt
to organize or dominate. In effect, this objective is an expression of the
major function currently performed by the UIA for the world system, namely
the use of documentation to facilitate contacts between nations and organizations. There
is therefore no question of an immediate major departure from current programs
but merely an additional precision which can facilitate program emphasis and
evaluation. The objective is forward-looking, challenging, invites participation,
and is sufficiently precise to lead to means of measuring progress towards
its accomplishment. It can be used as a basis for coordinating and redirecting
existing programs. It is not excessively ambitious and is relevant whatever
the financial resources of the organization. These are all essential characteristics
of an objective.
An objective is useless without an adequate strategy for achieving it. This
must take into account the resources of the organization. The only short-term
strategy open to the UIA is the current one since no other source of income
is available. As a long -- term strategy, the UIA can either concentrate
on the commercialization of its interests or attempt to broaden the range of
its contacts in order to obtain greater subsidy, foundation and contract support. If
it attempts to overcommercialize, it damages its relations with the organizations
with which it should be in contact.
The UIA must decide whether its own services are a more
useful aid to international cooperation in a given area, in which case it must
continue its operations. Alternatively, if a competing service is better, the
UIA must decide on one of two courses. Either the market must be considered
as important as a source of income which will increase the ability
of the UIA to fulfill its objectives in other areas, in which case it must
compete for resources with the other organization. Alternatively, the UIA can
consider that it can better employ its resources in other markets or with different
programs. It is important to recognize that in the first case the contribution
towards the UIA objectives would only be indirect and other programs may be
more useful in this respect. The distinction between the role of an NGO and
that of a commercial organization becomes important. It is questionable
whether one should attempt to undertake the functions of another.
A better strategy is therefore to modify the program emphasis in order to
make the UIA an effective tool for future change. The current program tends
to emphasis the passive documentation of activities initiated by others. It
give the UIA little more than a historical function in the world system. This
does not attract funds or support those who are attempting to change society
and plan for its future.