Industry Development

Industry Associations

Industry associations and government play key roles in building the capabilities of Australian industry.  They facilitate industry coordination and alignment of business decisions across the value chain and implement a range of strategies to achieve industry development goals at the firm and industry levels.

This page reports our Industry Development Framework and the results of our Industry Association Benchmarking Survey.

Our research involved extensive in-depth interviews with a cross-section of Australian industry associations and government and is informed by the outcomes of our other METS research in technology eco-systems, organisational culture and change and business models.

Industry Association Benchmarking

Industry Association  Development Evaluation Tool

The Industry association development evaluation tool has been developed so industry associations can evaluate the goals and strategies they implement to facilitate industry development, and compare to a sample of 116 associations Australia-wide.

The tool comprises three sections:

  1. Industry association development goals
  2. Industry coordination mechanisms and activities
  3. Industry development strategies and activities

To use the tool,  first complete each part of the tool to identify the goals, coordination mechanisms and strategies you use. Second, for each part of the tool, compare your responses to those of the broader sample, provided in the sections below.

At the beginning of each section, we briefly outline why it is an important part of an industry association’s repertoire for industry development. We then present survey results for the usefulness of each item in achieving the association’s industrial development goals and sub-goals. Following this, we present the survey results for the percentages of industry associations that implement the individual activities.

Some items may be more or less relevant to different industry associations, depending on the industry sectors they represent, the level of representation (regional, state, national), the number of staff employed by the association and the number of members. Some industry associations might implement additional activities that are not listed. We hope that the evaluation tool will provide new strategies and discussion points that will enable your industry association to better meet the needs of your members and play a decisive role in the development of your industry sector.

Industry association goals

Industry associations can play a central role in national, regional and technological innovation systems. They do this by pursuing a range of industry development goals. The focus of industry associations vary. One way of thinking about the goals of industry associations is to consider the target of their goals:

Goals related to developing capabilities of individual firms so that those firms have improved outcomes.

Goals related to developing collective capabilities that are shared across the industry leading to improved outcomes that are shared more broadly across the industry.

Goals related to developing a more favourable political, regulatory or social environment for the industry, that is, improving the institutional environment in which the industry operates.

Most industry associations focus on all three levels: firms, industry and institutional, with nearly all associations focused on the whole-of-industry goals and the institutional environment.











The development of capabilities and outcomes of individual firms

Some activities are undertaken by industry associations with the aim of increasing the quality, productivity, profitability and efficiency of individual firms to improve their individual outcomes rather than having a whole-of-industry focus. These can be categorised as:

  • Firm improvement – to assist firms develop their capabilities (technical, operational, organisational or marketing) to improve their current activities.
  • Firm value adding – to assist individual firms develop their capabilities (technical, operational, organisational or marketing) so they can undertake higher value activities.
  • Firm diversification – to assist individual firms develop their capabilities (technical, operational, organisational or marketing) so they can enter new industry sectors.

A minority of associations focus on firm diversification, with most assisting firms with their current activities.






The development of shared or collective industry capabilities and outcomes

Other industry association activities aim to improve the shared or collective capabilities of the industry or of strategically important sub-groups (or possibly clusters) of firms within the industry to increase the quality, productivity, profitability and efficiency of the industry or sub-groups of the industry.

  • Industry development – to assist the industry to identify or develop collective capabilities (technical, operational, organisational or marketing) to improve the industry’s current activities
  • Industry value adding – to assist the industry to identify or develop collective capabilities (technical, operational, organisational or marketing) to undertake new higher value activities
  • Industry diversification – to assist the industry to identify or develop collective capabilities (technical, operational, organisational or marketing) to enter new industry sectors

Similar to firm-focused goals, a minority of associations focus on industry diversification, with nearly all associations assisting whole-of-industry capability development.



Developing a more favourable environment for the industry

Neatly all associations aim to improve the institutional environment for the industry by establishing a more favourable economic, political and/or social operating environment.



Coordination activities of industry associations

Coordination of the industry is a central purpose of high performing industry associations. Industry associations implement industry coordination mechanisms to establish stable, transparent, coordinated operating environments at both firm and industry levels. These mechanisms enable an industry association, with a coordinated and active membership, to develop a shared vison for the industry. Industry associations that implement industry coordination mechanisms are able to acquire and disseminate knowledge to and from members and policy makers, identify industry goals and develop and implement targeted, structured, monitored and flexible industry development strategies and activities to achieve these goals. These coordination actions include:

The majority of participants in the survey reported that their industry association implemented a wide range of industry coordination mechanisms.





Strategies employed by industry associations

Industry associations with clearly articulated goals can design and implement targeted strategies and activities to achieve those goals and so benefit their members and industry sectors. The strategies and activities that are prioritised may vary, according to the industry the association represents. These strategies could include:

Workforce skills development strategies are those that identify and address skills gaps in the current workforce and predict and plan for skill requirements and training of the future workforce.

Business development skills are those that assist member businesses develop the skills and strategies necessary to run successful, innovative businesses in the current and future industry environments.

Innovation strategies enable the development of new ideas, facilitate collaboration between innovators, entrepreneurs, businesses and researchers and assist with the commercialisation of innovations.

Marketing strategies assist members to develop the skills- and knowledge-bases necessary to market their products domestically and globally.

Approximately three-quarters of industry associations reported strategies to develop the workforce and to encourage innovation.








Industry Development Fact Sheets

What makes a region internationally competitive?

Regions that compete successfully in global markets share two features: strategic vision that identifies strategic niche opportunities and coordination across key stakeholders. This Fact Sheet provides information for regions to help them develop unique capabilities that are difficult for other regions to duplicate and enable them to diversify across multiple value chains.


Industry development framework

CMBI’s Industry Development Framework brings together our research on Technology Innovation Ecosystems, Organisational Culture and Change, Business Models and Supply Chain Innovation. It presents strategies for government, the METS industry, the mining industry and research and training organisations that can enable the METS sector to overcome barriers and enhance innovation and the diffusion of new technology to the mining industry and beyond.


A strengths, weaknesses, gaps evaluation of the Bowen Basin METS sector

To achieve a region’s strategic vision, we need to quantify what capabilities the region does and does not have. This Fact Sheet shows the results of a strengths, weaknesses and gaps evaluation of the case study of the Bowen Basin METS sector. With this knowledge, we can develop strategies to build on existing capabilities, overcome weaknesses and fill gaps to enable the sector to grow and diversify.