Organizations that sustain long-term success have effective leadership at their core. In a membership organization, leadership is a responsibility shared by its volunteer board—the fiduciaries—and the chief executive officer, who is responsible for executing strategic directions. However, effective leadership is critically important at every level of an organization. The ASAE Research Foundation conducts research into a range of competencies, practices, and habits relevant to association leaders—from change management to staff leadership and much more.

Featured Research

CEO Pathways and Compensation

ASAE Research Foundation research shows that there is no single path to the association CEO role. The majority of the 400 CEOs surveyed for Pathways to CEO Success identified themselves as association professionals, while the others identified with the industry or profession their association serves. The research indicates it is likely that professional identification is both a result of those individuals’ career paths and a driver of the experiences and growth they realized along the way. They hold in common some fundamental traits—an important one is that they are lifelong learners.

7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do

The classic 7 Measures of Success is full of insights for volunteer and staff leaders alike. The research used a matched-pair methodology to tease out the traits and practices that have allowed organizations to be successful over time, ranging from maintaining a customer-service culture to employing data-driven strategies.

Major Research Initiatives

Innovation in Associations

The capacity to innovate is a hallmark of leading organizations and a necessary focal point for leadership. Whether incremental or more dramatic, true innovation is the result of a disciplined approach. The ASAE Research Foundation’s Innovation in Associations research is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of how associations choose to innovate, where they choose to focus their efforts, and the strategies and practices associations have applied for success in innovation. The research identifies effective practices to help association leaders nurture innovation in their own organizations.

ASAE ForesightWorks

An ASAE Research Foundation hallmark has long been research that looks to the future, with trends-focused research projects having been undertaken regularly over the past two decades. A new environmental scanning initiative is now under way, designed to give association leaders a continuous lens on the trends and developments likely to shape their world and tools they can use to make sense—and opportunity—out of what they see.

Publications and Resources


7 Measures of Success, 2nd Edition: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don’t

Environmental Scanning for Associations

Governing for Growth: Using 7 Measures of Success to Strengthen Board Dialogue and Decision Making

The Will to Govern Well: Knowledge, Trust & Nimbleness, 2nd Edition

Research Reports and Briefs

Pathways to CEO Success


Boards That Spark Innovation

CEO Salary Dynamics: A Snapshot

From Foresight to Action

Lessons from Association Innovators

Making a Model for Innovation

Pathways to CEO Excellence

Tools and Resources

7 Measures of Success Implementation Guide and Assessment Tool

Governing for Growth Facilitator's Guide