Membership Perception Of The Relevance Of Business Associations In A Changing Environment - A Case Study Of The Kenya Association Of Manufacturers
This study was undertaken with the objective of assessing the Kenya Association of Manufacturers membership’s perceptions of the relevance of services being offered by the association and whether their expectations are being met. The study focused on the association’s members in the fourteen sectors based in Nairobi ranging from small, medium and large-scale sectors. Business associations’ importance to any economy cannot be underrated since when the needs of their members are effectively addressed, this translates to further and more efficient industrial growth. The accompanying catalytic effects in the rest of the economy through backward and forward linkages lead to increased general economic growth and development. In the changing economic, political and social environment worldwide the role and responsibility of business associations has been extended or altered and with these changes, their reach and range of services have widened. These changes, in the Kenyan context can be seen from the services that membership expected from the business associations before liberalization, which to a large extent were policy related i.e. lobbying to the government to remove the controls which were not conducive for effective operations of the enterprises. With liberalization, the needs changed and most government controls such as foreign exchange controls, import controls, price controls, etc were removed, and the market opened, bringing with it other challenges both to the enterprises and the business associations. x It is against this background that this study was undertaken, to understand the perception of the members of KAM of the services being offered to them by the association and the extent that they value these services in a changed environment. The study was motivated by the rapid decrease of the members of the association, from approximately 600 in 1994 to 287 in August 2000. This is in comparison to the number of registered companies in the country which stands at over 4,000, and which KAM members account for only 7.1%. A list of companies obtained from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers was used as the sampling frame. A simple random of 60 firms covering all the fourteen sectors as per the categorization by the association were selected. The list also covered large, medium and small-scale companies also based on the categorization of KAM, which is on the annual turnover of the firms. 39 firms responded to the questionnaire, out of which, four were incomplete and therefore 35 were analyzed. This accounted for 58% of the response rate. The study results showed that despite the reduction in the number of members over the past few years, 43% of the respondents felt that their membership with the association was important to them while 45% said that the membership was necessary when their companies experienced problems and required solutions, which KAM could help it attain. The research indicates that the members were getting good value of service against their membership fee, however felt that there was room for improvement for the association especially in the areas of provision of other services such as specialized seminars and workshops and consultancy services. The research findings indicate further xi that the association should diversify its membership base by accepting membership from small and medium sized companies who, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics constitute 75% of the registered companies. The membership subscription fee for this category could also be reduced to make it affordable for them. A desk research was done to cover objective two of the study, which was intended to document the strategies that the association has taken in order to effectively and efficiently serve its membership in a liberalized economy. KAM has undertaken various activities such as the formation of working committees, division of their membership into geographical areas and has focused on its own infrastructure, rationalizing and redirecting their management resource to provide the “most effective and efficient services and backup to the membership”.