Originally posted at Evaluation Space
Of course, evaluation associations are uniqe organizations that serve their members and are oriented towards development of evaluation profession. But it would be a big mistake to deny the existence of competition between the associations since such a competition is one of the essential characteristics of the nature of their relationships. This is very similar to the relationships between the members of those associations who belong to the same professional organization (where they don't compete with each other) and compete in the evaluation market.
Why does competion between evaluation associations exist? Because they suggest similar services to the same and relatively small target group. Let me provide a personal example. Due to the very obvious reasons I can not afford attending more than one major international evaluation conference a year. When I choose which conference(s) to attend, it's a sign of competition between associations that host those conferences. In my case this year I had to choose between the conferences of the European Evaluation Society and the American Evaluation Association. When I decide which evaluation association to join, this is about my membership fees and most likely fees for some other services provided by the association. This is what we call competition.
There is another kind of competition between evaluation associations these days: regional associations compete for incorporating national associations. For instance, the emerging Asian Evaluation Society (not sure about the title - sorry!) invited evaluation networks from Kyrgzystan and Tajikistan to join. It means that our Central Asian colleagues who currently belong to the International Program Evaluation Network/IPEN (Newly Independent States) will need to decide if they still want to stay with IPEN or to quit IPEN and join another regional association (or do both).
Competition is good. It helps organizations improve their products and services. When the competition is healthy and honest, it is beneficial for all the parties involved (including customers indeed). Mature organizations value competition and respect their competitors. They know that competition is in fact one of the forms of collaboration in developing their business - very similar to sports. I do believe though that it is crucial to consider the competitive dimension of relationships between evaluation associations while developing their individual strategies and promoting collaboration bewteen them.
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