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31 December 2004

'Goodwill' and its Presumption

key to understanding the current challenges and opportunities of UIA

-- / --


-- Aims
-- Members
-- Secretariat activities and outsourcing
-- Contractual relationships
-- External relations
-- Information-related
-- Infrastructure-related
-- Varia


The UIA auditor in May 2004 confirmed the value of refreshing the UIA Balance Sheet to take account of what is termed 'goodwill' in standard accounting English. This term may imply a value that cannot be monetarized. In French accounting practice 'goodwill' is recognized as fonds de commerce which has a more focused monetary implication, unless commerce is interpreted in a more generic sense.

One accounting definition of goodwill is:

Goodwill is the difference between the consideration payable for a business and the aggregate fair value of its identifiable assets less liabilities. Much time could be spent in worrying about this definition, but the essential point is that the goodwill is the residue of the surplus value of the business after identifying specific assets to which a fair value can be attributed. It is suggested that intangible assets can only be capitalised separately from goodwill when there is an initial measurable value to them that can be recognised.

In the UIA context, 'goodwill' might be more loosely understood as an established disposition to respond favourably to UIA concerns, initiatives, products and services. In many cases it may indeed to difficult to place a monetary value upon it. It is essential non-comptabilisé.

The question then arises as to what might more specifically be understood as 'goodwill' in the case of the UIA. In considering this matter, it becomes apparent that this concept of 'goodwill' offers a powerful diagnostic tool for the current challenges and opportunities of the UIA - whether or not the focus is on the actual accounting concept of 'goodwill'. It is notably a conceptual device (une grille de lecture) for identifying the malaise from which the UIA has long been suffering.

In summary, the (separate) analysis demonstrates that the current UIA malaise  -- that has so long inhibited emergence of collective purpose, a sense of identity, or more fruitful strategic responses -- derives from misunderstandings, assumptions and exploitation relating to unrecognised dependency on goodwill in every aspect of the UIA undertaking.


In this light, under-resourced Secretariat operations can usefully be understood to be highly dependent on goodwill for their successful completion. Goodwill is not then simply a static accounting asset, but is rather a form of 'liquidity' through which the ongoing activities of the organization are dynamically sustained. In the case of the UIA it is essential for the ability of the organization to function.

It is useful to recall that goodwill, even as represented in a Balance Sheet, may not be constant. Under the best of circumstances it may only be latent - manifesting only episodically to the full. Goodwill may only be of a minimal - even token - nature, namely a form of goodwill-lite'. Periods of crisis are a particular test of goodwill for an organization.

In the case of the UIA, there is now a progressive withdrawal or erosion of goodwill - a kind of degenerative 'cancer of the will' - through which goodwill is variously transformed into indifference and disengagement, spontaneously manifesting and withdrawing in unpredictable ways. For some, the process may have a long history. It may take the form of an attitude of resignation. In others this is accompanied by dysfunctional resentment.

Where there are indeed manifestations of goodwill, these tend increasingly to be in conflict with one another with respect to new development, even when the issues have been discussed endlessly. Many feel that their goodwill has been poorly recognized, if not abused. There is also a tendency to exploit goodwill whether out of necessity, in pursuit of non-consensual ends, or in the classic form of bureaucratic blackmail - bartering tokens of goodwill in exchange for services, essential to the functioning of the organization, that cannot be elicited otherwise.

The presumption of goodwill (and 'benevolence') no longer applies -- whatever the courtesies and the respect for any immediate obligations, and however much genuine goodwill continues to manifest.

This occurs at a time when the international community has been exposed to the realities of both apathy and disaffection on the part of the electorate as well as widely publicized abuses of democratic processes - at a time when new forms of will are required for international action.


-- Analysis --


It might be said that the inspiration of the UIA derives in large part from a form of 'goodwill' - towards international organizations and especially in support of their pursuit of a more appropriate world order. International nonprofit associations can themselves be understood as exercises in 'goodwill' - as suggested by any use of the term 'benevolent'.

Henri La Fontaine (co-founder of the UIA with Paul Otlet) was an active pacifist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1913. He played a key role in the development of an international masonic order - for which 'goodwill' is widely recognized as a core value. Presumably he was inspired by similar values in the active role he subsequently played in the establishment of the League of Nations and of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, precursor of UNESCO.  Otlet himself has been described as having links with freemasonry and must thus have shared that inspiration. Such links may well have been significant in the subsequent development of the UIA and its projects, as an anchoring expression of that goodwill. The UIA has also benefited considerably from goodwill understood in Catholic terms, whether through the dedication of its leadership over extended periods to caritative action, or through facilitation of donations. A case could be made that these two influences combine the approaches of the 'head' and the 'heart' that are variously significant to nonprofit associations.

It might then be argued that the aims of the UIA, at least as originally understood,  reflect an effort to promote for associations of 'goodwill and integrity' what freemasonry has endeavoured to promote for individuals of 'goodwill and integrity'.

[Coincidentally the UIA first sought the assistance of the author of this analysis from an organization named World Goodwill - resulting incidentally in an early profile of the UIA in their periodical World Union-Goodwill. The French title of that body (Bonne Volonté Mondiale) effectively stresses the non-monetary interpretation of 'goodwill'.]

Challenge: In framing international associations (and by extension intergovernmental organizations) as bodies presumed to be of goodwill vital to any better world order, it is easily forgotten that many of these bodies are specifically opposed to the actions and values of other international associations. Each may claim a degree of benevolens, but each may well perceive malevolens' in others - or engage in a competitive assessment of degrees of goodwill. As a clearinghouse, the UIA has held to its documentary tradition and avoided implicating itself in the relative benevolens of one compared to another. It has dissociated itself from particular causes and coalitions, widely held to be 'benevolent', however uncritically. It has given due consideration to perspectives that many perceive as 'malevolent', or at least misguided. In so doing it holds to a more universal sense of goodwill that is much challenged to encompass the full range of undertakings of humanity. It effectively accepts that any particular concept of a 'new world order' may be legitimately challenged by those who perceive it to be code for a particular ideological agenda.

The question is how the community of associations as a whole should then be facilitated in a spirit of goodwill. How indeed should associations themselves be associated (or networked) in furtherance of  'goodwill and integrity'? Given the masonic fondness for architectural symbolism, what might be the 'social architecture' or 'knowledge architecture' appropriate to a new and more universal order embodying a higher order of goodwill -- transcending particular manifestations that may act in opposition to one another within that structure? How is the goodwill by which the UIA is inspired to mesh with that of other organizations in fulfilling its statutory functions?

Consequences: As in the case of 'goodwill' in the Balance Sheet, in its formal deliberations the UIA has ignored the underlying spirit of goodwill by which its operations have been sustained (whether amongst Members, within the Secretariat, or with other partners). It has also ignored the search for more appropriate modes of expression of goodwill in society. Its restrictive focus on the letter of its Statutes fails to recognize that these can only serve to channel and focus that goodwill, which may well undermine the viability of the organization, if unduly constrained.


Full Members: To a large extent, individuals accept the invitation to become Full Members as an act, or expression, of goodwill in sympathy with the aims and activities of the UIA. It is even stressed that little of a tangible nature is expected of them.

Challenge: Members may be as challenged by why they have been coopted as the Council is by what the business of the UIA is supposed to be. The Statutes do however impose an obligation to respond to convocations to the General Assemblies, whether or not Members attend or provide a proxy. If they respond, it is an act of goodwill. But a strain starts to be imposed on the goodwill of Full Members when there is some implication that they should attend, and should express decisive opinions relating to the future of the UIA through correspondence or through voting -- and are failing to fulfil obligations if they do not do so in some way. More strain is imposed if there is any implication that they should undertake initiatives in support of the UIA, even in times of crisis. Furthermore, it is effectively presumed that Members are of goodwill -- without any real means of subsequently determining the contrary or acting in consequence.It is under these conditions that the UIA Council is elected through the General Assembly as the supreme decision-making authority.

Consequences:  In this context, new Members seeking to give form to their goodwill may quickly become frustrated and alienated when no obvious mechanism or dialogue exists through which this may be facilitated within the UIA. Furthermore, Members may be alienated into indifference by their discovery that what they know is required and appropriate is challenged by what others know is required - without seeking means to integrate such countervailing perspectives. There may be no recovery from this initial alienation affecting an unknown percentage of membership. What is known is that very few Members (who are not Council members) have responded to the recent crisis situation, or even acknowledged it. The assumption of their continuing goodwill is therefore questionable.

Council Members: Again, to a large extent, Full Members accept election to the Council as a gesture of goodwill. They attend Council meetings as a gesture of goodwill - freely providing their time -- and are free not to attend or to provide a proxy. Whilst their travel and accommodation expenses in attending meetings have long been covered, in the current crisis period members cover their own travel costs - as an act of goodwill.

Challenge: Again a strain starts to be imposed on the goodwill of Council members when there is some implication that they should attend, and should express decisive opinions relating to the future of the UIA in correspondence or through voting -- and are failing to fulfil obligations if they do not do so in some way. Again, more strain is imposed if there is any implication that they should undertake initiatives in support of the UIA, notably through Council working groups -- even in times of crisis. It is presumed that Members are not faced with any conflicts of interest in the execution of their function. It is under these conditions that the Council elects the Bureau -- and engages in other forms of strategic decision-making regarding the activities of the Secretariat and in assessment of its performance.

Consequences: In associating themselves with what they assume to be a meaningful exercise of goodwill and integrity, Members are effectively discouraged from engaging to bring it about or to sustain it -- and may then become particularly cautious in their expression of commitment. There is an erosion of sense of responsibility. Interactions between Members, undertaken in a spirit of goodwill,  may be mutually discouraging. Members have had difficulty in finding and articulating common cause and formulating coherent proposals - or addressing this challenge. Although they have the statutory right and authority to engage collectively in determining the future of the UIA, they have no obligation or responsibility to inform themselves to any degree regarding its working parameters before expressing preferences for particular options. Out of what kind of goodwill should Council members then feel any duty of care? To the extent that they are aware of the level of goodwill on which current Secretariat operations are dependent, Members may feel that it gives rise to initiatives that are effectively out of control. This may give rise to Council initiatives that are effectively an abuse of the goodwill that is sustaining a semblance of normality.

Bureau Members: Again, to a large extent, Council members accept election to the unremunerated offices of President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary-General as a gesture of goodwill. To the extent that they undertake their statutory roles, they do so as a gesture of goodwill - freely providing their time -- and are free not to attend Bureau meetings or to engage in any related correspondence.

Challenge:  Again further strain starts to be imposed on the goodwill of Bureau members when there is some implication that they should be active in expressing decisive opinions relating to the future of the UIA -- and are failing to fulfil obligations if they do not do so in some way. Again, commensurate with their role, even more strain is imposed if there is any implication that they should undertake initiatives in support of the UIA, especially in times of crisis. It is under these conditions that the Bureau, if it meets, engages in strategic decision-making regarding the activities of the Secretariat and in assessment of its performance.

Consequences: Given its formal statutory functions and preoccupations, under the circumstances, the Bureau is much handicapped in its capacity to respond to the crisis of goodwill draining the collective will to act.

Secretariat activities and outsourcing

Secretary-General: In the case of the last three Secretaries-General, the role has been undertaken voluntarily - the only remuneration being in the form of token expenses (which legally results in the SG being declared as an 'employee'). As such the role is essentially an act of goodwill. The position, although one of prime formal responsibility, has often been presented to those solicited for election to the office as requiring only a minimum of activity in fulfilment of statutory requirements -- since the Secretariat operations are understood as basically 'running themselves'. Secretaries-General have tended to treat their involvement as a part-time activity.

Challenge:  Strain starts to be imposed on the goodwill of the Secretary-General when it becomes apparent that there are difficult management decisions and compromises to be made - for which the SG should take full responsibility, without necessarily fully comprehending the issues and their implications, or desiring to do so.  The goodwill is further strained when initiatives proposed by the SG, in the absence of a full sense of other priorities and commitments, may then have to be set aside or given lower priority  - because they have unforeseen implications for other operations and resources (straining the goodwill on which they may themselves be dependent). Again, commensurate with the role, even more strain is imposed if there is any implication that the SG should resolve the problems facing the UIA, notably under conditions of crisis. It is under these conditions that the SG is primarily responsible for managing the Secretariat and assessing individual performance -- in consultation with the President, also acting out of goodwill, who is similarly challenged, but at one step removed (and consequently with a lesser sense of implication or responsibility in times of crisis).

Consequences: The challenge for the function of Secretary-General, given the current situation, is that although contractual obligations are being fulfilled according to schedule and with goodwill, this is not the case with nurturing proposals for the increased income in the future. The possibilities are there, but the collective goodwill to commit to them and carry them out has reached a state of exhaustion.

Secretariat / Employees: Many key tasks involve a relatively lengthy learning/familiarization period (years rather than months) for fully effective work. The emphasis has therefore been on indefinite rather than short-term contracts. To compensate for the much-constrained UIA salaries and working conditions - and the widespread understaffing -- compromises have long been made in favour of sustaining a pattern of goodwill with, and between, employees. Given the nature of much of the work, focused on tightly scheduled production, much reliance is placed on decentralized self-management of editorial teams and personal initiative in response to needs and opportunities. Hierarchical supervision is essentially replaced by mutual checking within teams. This working climate, well-recognized as attractive to UIA employees, has been matched by a willingness to respond to challenges of deadlines and crises by working long hours when necessary - an act of goodwill. Registration of hours worked has always been done on an honours system with minimal supervisory verification as opposed to verification by team members. This is especially the case with the few personnel working from home. Some personnel work extra hours voluntarily (with no expectation of remuneration or time-off) and some have worked for extensive period with minimal remuneration - effectively as volunteers, and acts of goodwill. This self-organizing culture is noteworthy for its ability to respond spontaneously out of goodwill to lengthy absences of staff due to severe illnesses. 

Challenge: This approach has given rise, in the case of some employees, to an accumulation of a significant number of overtime hours -- scheduled for recovery in time-off rather than as salaries. The constraints of Belgian social security legislation have meant that, once through the trial period, it effectively becomes very costly to terminate employees. The situation makes it relatively difficult to change working habits, especially when the person has been encouraged in any willingness to work voluntarily. In this situation, when personnel may have relatively good reason to consider that they are not remunerated according to Belgian norms, continuing goodwill is a vital factor in sustaining operational coherence.

Consequences: The Secretariat has become dependent, for the completion of certain tasks, on work done voluntarily, whether or not in exchange for hours off. This has meant that some projects are not fully costed in the financial accounts, notably when time-off may subsequently called for. Of crucial importance have been tendencies for personnel (whether all of the time or only some of the time) to withdraw their involvement in anything more than their immediate responsibilities. This then runs the risk of leaving intersectoral problems undetected, unreported and unattended. The statutory bodies and officers, focused as they are on formal reporting, have had little awareness of the significance of these dependencies.

Independents / Consultants: Because of the challenge (and budgetary implications) of acquiring and employing any necessary high levels of expertise within the constraints of the Belgian social security legislation, the Secretariat has been obliged to call upon 'independents' - typical of the use of 'consultants' by many international bodies responding to opportunities associated with the European Union in Brussels.

Challenge: Such arrangements appear to be more costly to an organization than are regular employees, notably in the case of technical consultants for computer systems. When known, any perceived discrepancies of gross remuneration undermine goodwill on the part of regular employees -- however well such differences are justified by the responsibility that the independent takes for social security costs otherwise borne by the employer. In the case of long-term use of independents, such resentment, however it is articulated or felt, undermines goodwill on the part of the consultant - especially when the consultant offers services to the UIA at lower than 'commercial rates' -- out of goodwill - or possibly free of charge as in the preparation of responses to calls for funding proposals. The situation is further complicated when the Secretariat delays payment of invoices from consultants - especially when the same consultants, as an act of goodwill, may at times withhold invoices for a time to facilitate the UIA cash flow.

Consequences: There has been a tendency to cultivate and sustain an atmosphere of suspicion -- even a degree of hostility regarding the use by the Secretariat of independents. No proactive exploration of alternatives has been proposed - creative responses to the situation are left to the independent. This is not conducive to sustaining a long-term relationship with people who have demonstrated valuable concrete commitment to UIA undertakings.

Recovery management group: With the rapid evolution of the financial and other crises in 2004, the heads of Secretariat departments, together with the Treasurer, effectively constituted an informal 'recovery management group' -- with the periodic involvement of two Full Members with long experience of the Secretariat. It has been within this group that recovery challenges and opportunities have been explored and discussed. It has been this group that has had the continuing responsibility to nourish hopes for the future of the UIA and Secretariat operations and projects, especially to ensure new income for 2005. Whereas staff in general, although reasonably well informed, have been protected from many of the uncertainties, this group has had to deal with a hard-nosed assessment of the UIA reality.

Challenges: Although optimism has prevailed, and many actions have been fruitfully taken beyond the call of duty - as acts of goodwill - this group has been especially sensitive to the general erosion of goodwill, both within the UIA environment and beyond. Much more significantly, since members of the group have different concerns, potentially supportive contacts, or senses of strategic possibilities (and vulnerabilities) has been the shift from mutual encouragement to mutual discouragement - and precautious withdrawal of shared commitment. There has been a dispiriting erosion of shared responsibility for the long term, whilst seeking to meet short-term commitments as appropriately as possible.

Consequences: Whilst a duty of care is still held as the highest value, this group has reached a point of mutual exhaustion with regard to creative approaches to new income in the longer term - despite reasonably concrete possibilities for the short-term. It has been essentially unable to orchestrate fruitfully the medium-term initiatives that its members have individually proposed in a spirit of goodwill.

Contractual relationships

Belgian government: The UIA, notably through the privileged access offered by appointment of former Belgian ambassadors as Secretaries-General, has sought to cultivate the goodwill of the Belgian government via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - and to anchor this support in an accord de siège. The UIA has also helped promote recognition of government goodwill towards NGOs associated with the favourable status accorded to international NGOs in Belgium as a result of UIA lobbying in 1919.

Challenge: With the many budgetary and other pressures on different ministries, any assumption of goodwill has become increasingly highly questionable.

Consequences: These have been well demonstrated: withdrawal of the token subsidy; challenges to the carefully negotiated secretariat building, etc. This is now framed condescendingly as a regime de faveur and subject to the constant threat of eviction. Changes to legislation have been designed to reduce advantages accorded to international NGOs - and any justification for locating offices in Belgium. In times of crisis, it also becomes apparent that there is very little room for manoeuvre in reducing staff costs due to the very supportive social security legislation in Belgium.

Secretariat offices (MAI): The UIA is the founding tenant in the MAI building

Challenge: The UIA is obliged to exhibit a measure of consideration - of goodwill - in dealings with the building management, irrespective of contractual provisions. This is reciprocated under particular circumstances to facilitate the situation of both parties. The UIA has in fact long been dependent on extra cellar space for archives - allocated freely out of goodwill by the MAI.

Consequences: The inability of the building management, or its unwillingness, to provide certain types of assistance or service obliges the Secretariat to depend on the goodwill of personnel to carry out certain tasks (rubbish, movement of furniture, etc).

Publisher (Saur/Gale): Beyond the purely commercial contractual provisions, the relationship with Saur since 1982 has involved a remarkable degree of goodwill on both sides, deriving in part from the strong early associations of both parties with the documentation and library community.  Cultivating this goodwill is recognized by both parties in any negotiation and in the response to crises. Each responds to the constraints of the other to a degree that is recognized as exceptional for the publishing industry.

Challenge: Whilst benefiting from mutually recognized strengths, the pressure to innovate, involving a degree of risk, introduces a degree of stress upon the climate of goodwill. Such difficulties are exacerbated by the relatively recent status of Saur as a subsidiary of a multinational corporation (first Reed Elsevier then Gale/Thomson) with more stringent decision-making criteria and approaches.

Consequences: Although the bonds of professionalism and friendship sustaining the goodwill have even featured in protective measures in the changing ownership of Saur, this institutional overhead necessarily dilutes to an increasing degree the privileged relation of goodwill with Saur as a subsidiary.

Intergovernmental bodies (UN, UNESCO, etc): The UIA has prided itself in the past on a relationship of goodwill with various intergovernmental organizations, especially UN/ECOSOC and UNESCO.

Challenge: Given the evolution of these bodies and the administrative charge they face in dealing with NGOs, such a relationship can no longer be considered to hold.

Consequences: With the Cardoso Report proposals of 2004, for example, it may be expected that UN/ECOSOC will undertake initiatives that will undermine some of the information activities of the UIA - with little recognition of the consequences on the part of UN/ECOSOC.

Meetings industry (AMs): The UIA has long cultivated the goodwill of the meetings industry, notably through its Associate Membership.

Challenge: Given the professionalisation and commercialisation of the meetings industry, and the emergence of a variety of competing fora to the UIA Associate Membership, the transfer of responsibility for this group with UIA from Ghislaine de Coninck to Joel Fischer poses a real challenge to sustaining that goodwill - if only in more purely commercial terms.

Consequences: The effects of any erosion in goodwill will become apparent in the early months of 2005.

Services and pricing: Consistent with the goodwill dimension of its statutory objectives, the UIA has traditionally endeavoured to facilitate access of various sectors to its information products and services. The sectors range from international associations (especially those whose members also have nonprofit objectives), national equivalents (especially groups promoting social change), intergovernmental organizations, and academic researchers.

Challenge: In seeking to increase access, the UIA has been severely challenged to find formulae that strike a balance between an expression of goodwill and creating vulnerability to exploitation. Such bodies may well expect the UIA to act out of goodwill. The challenge is rendered more acute by the need to be attentive to ensuring costs are covered (especially where what is requested involves further work).

Consequences: The dilemmas around pricing services have created uncertainties that have rendered decision-making inconsistent - despite various efforts to clarify the matter. These uncertainties have undermined UIA capacity to respond to such requests or to pursue the commercially marginal clientele they represent. Responses have tended to be on a case-by-case basis, resisting requests perceived to be exaggerated. This has served to undermine external goodwill towards the UIA.

Staff social security relations: It is important to recognize that UIA personnel policy is to maintain staff in conformity with Commission paritaire guidelines but not to be constrained by them.

Challenge: Staff are expected to subscribe to this formula - effectively as an act of goodwill - or seek alternative employment. The matter was one of the points of staff grievances in 2002 that led to the rise in salary that contributed to the current liquidity crisis.

Consequences: This an related anomalies, such as the absence of the 'normal' annual bonus (accorded in many Belgian organizations), contributes to undermining goodwill.

Suppliers: As with any organization faced with budgetary and cash flow constraints, the UIA is obliged to take advantage of suppliers and to exploit their goodwill, by delaying payment of invoices for services rendered.

Challenge: Whilst this process is managed with as much sensitivity as possible it is especially problematic when it is the invoices of suppliers who are generous with their time and effort in a spirit of goodwill towards UIA.

Consequences: As is to be expected this tendency on the part of the UIA erodes the willingness of certain suppliers to do business with the UIA or to treat UIA business with any priority - a particular problem in the case of computer emergencies.

Financial loans: The UIA has on occasion benefited from soft loans, granted as an act of goodwill, notably to facilitate new program initiatives.  Not only may such loans be interest free, their duration may be undetermined. Some may not even be called in, being effectively converted into donations - as an act of goodwill. Occasionally members of staff may accept that remuneration due to them be withheld to facilitate cash flow - again as an act of goodwill.

Challenge: Although such arrangements are a relatively rare occurrence, and the amounts may be relatively small, proper recognition has not necessarily been given to such facilities in UIA accounts.

Consequences: Such processes may evoke a degree of resentment and misunderstanding - eroding goodwill -- amongst those aware of the unresolved issues associated with such processes

External relations

International organizations: Goodwill towards international organizations, through facilitating their activities, is implicit in the statutory aims of the UIA. As a clearinghouse, the ability of the UIA to elicit information from international organizations is fundamental to its viability.

Challenge: The UIA has been much challenged within its budget to find ways to facilitate the activities of international organizations directly. According to some criteria, it has been surprisingly successful in doing so indirectly through information. Now that the web reduces the need for publicizing an organization, such information may only be provided to the UIA as a gesture of goodwill.

Consequences: To avoid any political implications associated with promoting the name of the UIA in soliciting information - perceived at abusing goodwill through disguised efforts at 'unionising' -- emphasis is placed on the services for which the information is solicited. As a result the 'Union of International Associations' is relatively little known. The development of the web is decreasing the response rate from international organizations.

Representation to intergovernmental organizations: The UIA has some form of consultative relationship with a variety of intergovernmental bodies. In some cases this had resulted in the nomination of a permanent representative to that body. By so doing the intention has been to advance the interests of the UIA within the debates of that body -- as and when occasion permits. This is a pattern cultivated by many international NGOs and is a form of 'lobbying' notably cultivated by multinational for-profit coalitions in relation to the European Commission.

Challenge: The question for the UIA is what it seeks to achieve by this role and whether the activity of the representative should be in any way remunerated - if it is not undertaken purely as an act of goodwill. This is especially the case if the task is accumulated with other undeclared, non-UIA reasons for interacting with the intergovernmental body about which issues of conflict of interest might be raised. The value of this role is called into question in times of crisis and its associated windows of opportunity - especially when there is risk to cessation of UIA activities and the intergovernmental body is actively envisaging allocation of new resources to a new competing body.

Consequences: The assumption of goodwill on both sides is called into question and the relationship is perceived as essentially dysfunctional and unfruitful, whoever is held to blame.

Library community: The UIA originated from close and intimate association with the development of the international bibliographic, classification and library sciences. Given his contribution to the UDC, Paul Otlet is perceived as a heroic pioneer in that community. Historically there has therefore been considerable goodwill on the part of that community towards the UIA and its products -- as a continuing fruit of that work. The association with Saur, as a publisher specializing in the needs of the library community and cultivating relations with its principal organizations, has only helped to reinforce that impression.

Challenge:  With the emergence of information sciences, and their displacement of classical library science, historical appreciations easily fade into insignificance, and with them any associated goodwill. Internet-based information tools and databases have completely reframed the needs of those responding to users - changing the status of international reference tools. Saur and Gale engage in heroic efforts to adapt to these rapid changes and the UIA necessarily benefits from their (interested) goodwill - but this translates only vaguely into any appreciation on the part of end users.

Consequences: With passing generations, the UIA is losing very fast its goodwill relationship with the library community dependent on librarians trained in an earlier period. The relationship through the Internet is of a different nature and, given the cost, highly conditional upon usage rates.

Academic community: As the leading source of information on the universe of international organizations over an extended period, the UIA has always endeavoured to cultivate a relationship of goodwill with researchers. This is enhanced by the extensive bibliographic research undertaken on their work. This appreciation has in part been reaffirmed through the publication of statistical data under contract in the UCLA/LSE Global Civil Society Yearbook.

Challenge: Researchers have a very strong tendency to assume that data valuable to them should be made freely available to them, especially when their research is undertaken under a limited budget, as with students. They have very little appreciation of the challenges of ensuring the economic viability of the process whereby large databases are maintained. Researchers with computer skills function within a culture that also encourages them to obtain data 'freely', notably by making unauthorised copies of datasets made available to one of them.

Consequences:  Any initial goodwill on the part of researchers may quickly be soured by the dialogue with a UIA concerned at adequate coverage of costs and protection against unauthorised copying. This directly impacts the ability of the UIA to be associated with interesting new research (such as on interorganizational networks) for which it may in the past have appealed.

Fund-raising: The UIA does not normally engage in any form of fund raising beyond sale of products, possibly at discount rates. Such fund raising - the vehicle for the expression of goodwill for many funding agencies and philanthropists -- has occasionally been undertaken by Secretaries-General in the past with some success - usually amongst Belgian contacts, notably under conditions of emergency. As indicated earlier, there is no implication that Full Members should be active in this role - although they could be active in this way as an act of goodwill. Particular projects, notably the Encyclopedia project, have however been made possible as a result of funds supplied in a manner which might be categorized as fund-raising - but through personal contacts initiated by those associated with the Secretariat.

Challenge: The intersectoral, international, clearinghouse profile of the UIA is not attractive to funders with sectoral, national (or regional) 'concrete' commitments. For such fund-raising to be successful, it has to be skillfully configured in terms of well-articulated projects, as has been successfully demonstrated by Nadia McLaren in responding to calls for proposals by the European Commission and the World Bank. There is considerable wastage in any investment to obtain funds.

Consequences: Through the absence of sustained project development, the UIA has cut itself off from a possibility of enabling acts of goodwill in its favour and in support of its objectives.

Public relations (Marketing): Despite the goodwill it might be expected to evoke far more readily than in the case of many other bodies, throughout its history the UIA has been much challenged in relation to this function. Its weakness in this respect was a prime reason for transferring publication and distribution of its main information products to Saur in 1982. This is curious in that in principle the UIA could form the subject of a successful and continuing public relations campaign - notably in the light of the relative success of its Belgian step-sister the Mundaneum. It is recognized as being well-positioned and has even been solicited for that reason (as with the international ISBN number and  the .INT domain, and more recently with the .ORG domain and the GRID project)

Challenge: There are several reasons that the UIA has not been able to undertake a more successful public relations campaign. At the level of the Council, there has been an inability to resolve strategic dilemmas about the nature of the business in which the UIA has engaged -- perhaps to highlight the 'goodwill' associated with promoting the action of international nonprofit associations (as vehicles of 'goodwill' in the world). Without resolving this 'identity crisis' - common to many bodies entering the information society of the 21st century -- it is difficult for any professional marketing approach to articulate a coherent profile or determine to whom it should be addressed. It is for this reason that a stress has been placed on marketing though UIA information products and services - notably those that offer worldwide visibility over the web.

Consequences: Amongst the many proposals, there has been no agreement on what kind of publicity brochure should be produced - leaving Members to each produce whatever brochure they feel corresponds to their audience. Lacking an adequate marketing budget, it has proven difficult to hire a staff member with the capacity to respond creatively to the challenge, if only on a case-by-case basis. The various experiments have proven to be expensive failures. There is considerably discomfort, notably at the Council level at the failure to give coherence to the image of the UIA. For many this translates into a regret at the focus on the use of the internet rather than emphasizing, in an as yet unspecified way, other facets of the UIA.

Public information: The Secretariat is in receipt of a constant stream of communications from organizations and individuals of every kind. Responses cannot necessarily be made with standard texts or using automated facilities, especially when they effectively call for dialogue.

Challenge: Many of these communications are sent in a spirit of goodwill and call for a response in kind. The Secretariat does not have the resources to do full justice to expectations of this nature. Decisions to respond, and the quality of the response, then become a matter of goodwill.

Consequences:  This situation is much regretted by those in the Secretariat aware of the failure of goodwill in the quality of responses.

Language (interpretation / translation): As an international organization the UIA makes use of many languages, if only in the information it receives from international organizations. Its working languages are English and French, the former being primarily used in the product it produces, the latter primarily in its decision-making processes, notably in its statutory meetings. Given its limited budget, issues of interpretation and translation are of considerable significance, notably in a bilingual country - especially given that many of the 'English' users in the Secretariat are Dutch speakers.

Challenge: Although the translation of texts into English for documentation purposes is part of the job specification of those concerned, the translation of French texts into English for other purposes (administration, marketing, etc) does not fall within any job specification. The same is true of translations into French. Such translations are therefore undertaken, or checked, as an act of goodwill. In the dynamics of Council meetings, and in the absence of interpretation, participants with little skills in one of the languages used submit to the other out of goodwill and are offered interpretations out of goodwill.

Consequences: Considerable tension may arise out of expectations that a person with the capacity to translate is expected to do so out of goodwill, even though it is not part of their job. Significant further stress is caused at imperfections in translations - especially if they are destined for audiences that may be sensitive to this. Participants at meetings may be alienated by the expectation that they should follow debates partially conducted in a language with which they have little or no familiarity - whether or not they seek to benefit from interpretation offered out of goodwill, but possibly felt to be an indignity.

'Friends of the UIA': There is a long-standing pattern whereby some visitors to the UIA, whether staff working at a distance or Council members, are freely accommodated with 'friends of the UIA' based in Brussels - as an act of goodwill. In a crisis situation, in which those with a formal duty of care have effectively disassociated themselves from the recovery process, dependence on the goodwill of this group has increased. Strategic advice on opportunities has been sought from professional friends of the Treasurer and of other Full Members with Brussels links. The assistance as an act of goodwill of regular consultants (normally employed for other purposes) has been highly beneficial. Relatives of staff members have provided concrete assistance (furniture moving, etc).

Challenge: Whilst such assistance is most welcome, the need for recourse to it may be regretted as indicative of dysfunctionality in UIA operations.

Distribution of excess stocks: Each year the Saur produces a number of UIA products in excess of the capacity to sell them. As a gesture of goodwill, these are offered to UIA free of charge, subject only to UIA taking responsibility for  transportation costs and avoiding their distribution to potential customers (which would then reduce the collective Saur/UIA income). Given its relationship with international organizations, the UIA has a strong motivation to distribute such publications to them at a minimal charge (or for the cost of transportation only). This applies equally to libraries in developing countries.

Challenge: A number of experiments have been made. But the cost of transporting such publications from a warehouse in Germany to Brussels (or to any other location) is prohibitive of many transactions. It is also important to appreciate that transportation to developing countries may results in customs costs to the recipient far in excess of any they would appreciate - or would generate any goodwill. Some possibilities are difficult to administer for lack of sufficient staff.

Consequences: The excess stocks therefore tend to be pulped and the UIA is unable to fulfil a statutory act of goodwill that is in principle within its power. This deprives organizations in need of a valuable tool and deprives the UIA of their goodwill. This wastage is experienced as a depressing lost opportunity by staff who have worked on those products


Data: Issues of goodwill relating to the provision of information by international organizations are discussed above.

Accuracy: It is appropriate to note that the UIA is dependent to a high degree on the goodwill of editorial staff, individually and collectively, in researching and updating profiles in an assiduous and responsible manner - in order to sustain the high quality of the product. Such dependence should not be taken granted.

Security: It is not practical for the Secretariat to operate at a high level of security. Security is high where feasible but there is a dependence on the goodwill of in-house users of its facilities to sustain adequate security and to prevent abuse of the system. Furthermore there is a presumption of goodwill that in-house or remote associates will not exploit information resources inappropriately. There is therefore a dependence on goodwill, rather than difficult-to-implement security controls that imply lack of confidence in the associate.

Product security: Information products and services (CD-Rom, online, etc) is increasingly vulnerable to abuse. Application of high security features is perceived as unfriendly by potential customers and therefore strongly discouraged by Saur. The claim is made that institutional customers are respectful of such information and do not seek to abuse it. This is typically of the culture favoured by the open source community. This is a major gesture of confidence in the goodwill of users and, on the part of UIA, in Saur - one with significant commercial risk attached to it. The UIA is also obliged to presume that Gale will not abuse its privileged access to UIA data.

Infra-structure related

Software (and learning): The UIA has benefited extensively from software made available as an act of goodwill - notably open source software. It has also benefited from gestures of goodwill on the part of software suppliers (notably for its network software) and application developers (notably for Revelation). UIA operations have benefited to a very high degree from the goodwill exhibited by key associates in acquiring competence of their own accord (and on their own time) with new software - exemplifying the characteristics of a learning organization - in order to develop new applications. The UIA has never had to invest in training courses.

Challenge: The Secretariat has developed a sub-culture of self-dependency with regard to computer software and its development. Those without the ability or disposition to acquire such skills then become dependent on the goodwill of those possessing them. The challenge is increased by the fact that some operations may be dependent on a degree of know-how that is only transmissible with difficulty, or not at all. This gives rise to situations in which, to minimize costs, assistance is sought from computer-skilled friends who act out of goodwill. [Ironically, at the time of completing this summary, a professional brought in to complete the upgrade of the network facility complained that it could have been completed rapidly and at lower cost had the UIA's internet service provider exhibited a small degree of goodwill in making an adjustment - which indeed they were not prepared to do.]

Consequences: This gives to tensions and resentments when it is implied that those with those skills (and thereby defined by them in some measure) should act in response to the needs of those that do not - even though it may not be their job, or their desire, to be available in this way. The dependency exposes the UIA to vulnerability in the event of illness, holidays or departures. The direction of development of UIA applications may be highly determined by the software available and the ability to develop it in-house. But when the development undertaken in a spirit of goodwill is not fully appreciated by those expected to use it, this undermines that goodwill and willingness to make such contributions. 

Hardware (maintenance): The continued functioning of the extensive range of computer equipment basic to UIA Secretariat operations has depended over many years on the goodwill of key staff members in substituting effectively for any costly (and often ineffective) maintenance contract - often acting far outside their job specifications. The UIA has only rarely been successful in soliciting equipment - a traditional form of goodwill on the part of computer companies - despite efforts to do so and an interesting profile.

Challenge: The Secretariat has developed a sub-culture of self-dependency with regard to computer hardware maintenance. Those without the ability or disposition to acquire such skills then become dependent on the goodwill of the few possessing them. The challenge is increased by the fact that maintaining some server-related equipment may be dependent on a degree of know-how that is only transmissible with difficulty, or not at all.

Consequences: This gives to tensions and resentments when it is implied that those with those skills (and thereby defined by them in some measure) should act in response to the needs of those that do not - even though it may not be their job, or their desire, to be available in this way. The dependency exposes the UIA to vulnerability in the event of illness, holidays or departures

Furniture: The UIA has only very rarely invested in furniture and for long years was only too obviously constrained by the quality of furniture it used. The Secretariat has however benefited to a very high degree from a series of goodwill donations of high quality furniture from a succession of multinational corporations - to the degree that most offices may now well have been largely furnished from this source.

Challenge: Whilst such assistance is most welcome, the need for recourse to it may be regretted as indicative of dysfunctionality in UIA operations.

Office facilities: The UIA has long had a 'goodwill policy' of being open to making available office facilities to other parties where there was good reason. For many years the UIA housed the FAIB under these conditions - and continues to provide the FAIB with computer facilities. It has provided facilities for visiting scholars, for visiting Council members, and for visiting NGO officers. Because of the obvious mutual benefits, the UIA currently provides space for its own Treasurer. As part of its project work, facilities are also provided for a contracted consultant.

Challenge:  Although such facilities are provided under conditions where the very low costs to UIA are far outweighed by the benefits, it is important to recognize when such expressions of goodwill become problematic and under what conditions the costs should be challenged or compensation sought (eg costly international phone charges).

Consequences: In particular cases provision of such facilities is recognized to be a responsibility, possibly unwelcome in times of crisis. This is notably the case with regard to configuring computer resources for short-term visitors. The UIA is therefore less enthusiastic than it might be about welcoming such visitors.

Office services: Secretariats of the size of that of the UIA normally depend on personnel to undertake the most basic tasks. In the case of the UIA, for budgetary reasons, there is almost no secretarial capacity. The focus is on editorial and production tasks and their administration.

Challenge: Simple tasks (photocopying, filing, coffee, moving furniture, etc), when they have to be performed, are therefore undertaken essentially as acts of goodwill and recognized as such in requests for them to be done. One consequence is that the more the task is outside the job specification, the greater the expectation that it should be undertaken by a more senior member of staff.

Consequences: Although many such tasks are handled without any problem, there is recognition of a level of inappropriateness and exploitation of goodwill as people engage in or avoid such responsibilities.


Acknowledgements: The UIA is not especially graceful in acknowledging the many years that individuals may devote - in a spirit of goodwill -- to support for the UIA, whether as Full Members, on the Council, in elected positions, as members of staff, as independent, or in other capacities.

Legal and insurance protection: Those who associate with the UIA, in capacities that may involve a measure of risk, may well do so in a spirit of goodwill, neglecting to consider whether they are appropriately protected. This applies both to health insurance and to vulnerability to legal action.

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