RIM: Navigating through a Maze of Associations

By Pemberton, J. Michael | Records Management Quarterly, October 1994 | Go to article overview

RIM: Navigating through a Maze of Associations


Pemberton, J. Michael, Records Management Quarterly


ARMA International's present Five-Year Plan introduces four mission-oriented directions. They are to:

1. Advance the practice of Records and Information Management (RIM) as a discipline and as a profession,

2. Organize and promote programs of research, education, training, and networking within that profession,

3. Support the enhancement of professionalism of the membership, and

4. Promote cooperative endeavors with related professional groups.(1)

In addressing the roles of professional associations, an earlier "Perspectives" column(2) noted that one role of any professional association is that of defining the domain and the boundaries of the field, or discipline, which the association represents. An important aspect of that function is developing positive relationships between the association--its members and its programs--and other associations related by "subject" and purposes. This column explores why ARMA International and its members should be interested in relationships with other associations and suggests some of the associations with which we might explore useful relationships.

The former, sometimes blatant, competitiveness of associations among each other is being gradually replaced by a more cooperative attitude. There are a variety of reasons for this shift in outlook, many of them traceable to shifts in our larger society, but most important is the ongoing shift in the larger social paradigm. That is, the ways we look at events, our perceptions of reality, are finding new directions and expressions. Instead of depending, as we once did, on metaphors from physics (e.g., "splitting," "atomic," "exploding"), we are using more biological expressions (i.e., "adaptive," "integrative," "evolutionary"). Our sense of the new order is most clearly expressed, perhaps, in network terms (e.g., "connectivity," "interface").(3) As management and decision-making styles evolve away from the authoritarian toward the consensus, or cooperative, mode, much more is affected than simply our workplaces. This new environment extends to the development of partnerships among groups which were formerly hostile to one another (e.g., management and labor) or who simply ignored one another.

Another reality in association work today is that increasingly no one professional or trade association can be--and do--all things for all its members. The interests and needs of professionals-as-association-members tend to be increasingly diverse, in part because of rapid development and changes in technology and because more new skills are demanded in increasingly matrixed, or "teaming," work environments. It makes strong economic and customer-service sense, then, for associations to partner in areas of interest or need for their respective--but sometimes mutual--memberships. This is clearly the case for those associations in the extensive arena of information processing; opportunities for interaction abound in this meta-discipline of information, which includes sub-disciplines in information systems, information processing, information technology, information management, and information science.

While the information fields pursue activities and processes using different names, one look below the surface shows strong similarities of function. While they often fail to realize it, records managers, librarians, archivists, MIS professionals and others in the information disciplines share a broad range of concepts, interests, functions, technologies, and values. These intersections of interest include:

* The life-cycle construct widely referred to in records management also characterizes the creation-to-disposition sequence of the records/information process in all the information fields.

* The exponentially multiplying supply of information means that all information practitioners must increasingly serve as gatekeepers, or quality-control filters, for information systems and collections. …

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