Relationship between Association Culture and Performance

4th February 2019

To conclude her Executive Master in International Association Management at Solvay Brussels School, Boardroom Advisory Board Member Silke Schlinnertz wrote her final paper on the different ways of dealing with culture in the association world. Here are her findings.

Like cultures in general, organisational culture especially in associations is complex and unique. Culture is based on the individual history, leadership and team members. Hence, in order to improve performance and let an organisational culture have the appropriate effect on all parties involved, it is important to understand how organisational culture actually affects an association and its board members, leadership and employees alike. Understanding organisational culture is key to get the things done and not damaging any relations.

The rationale of the paper was to examine the different ways of dealing with culture in the association world, as well as to provide case studies for effective culture and performance management in views of various International federations / trade associations. By looking at how other associations are doing, the reader shall (hopefully) be shown samples of how to build a performing organisational culture for an association. An online survey and interviews revealed the following:

  • Culture and performance in associations is nuanced:
    It is important to create and understand each organisational culture as its own and define the link between performance and culture. There is no one fits all!
  • Associations are on a journey:
    Every individual needs to understand his/her role in shaping the association culture and as a result the increase in the chosen performance.
  • Accountability is the responsibility of the community:
    In associations, accountability cannot simply lie with individuals or solely with the secretariat (staff), it needs to be applicable to all stakeholders involved.

Outcome: Culture drives performance as long as performance is defined!

  • Create a strong yet flexible culture to deal with upcoming challenges
  • Learn how to cope with the dual problem of constantly adapting to the ever changing environment and needs while sharing a sense of responsibility, ownership and commitment with all parties involved.

Interested in reading the full paper, follow this link:

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