NEWS16 July 2010

Esomar representatives asked to sign charter

Europe North America

NETHERLANDS— Esomar is asking its 82 country representatives to sign a charter agreeing to act in the best interests of Esomar, its members and the international interest in the wake of the dismissal of US East Coast representative Tom Anderson.

A copy of the charter obtained by Research sets out the responsibilities of representatives and the expectations of the trade association when they are engaged in official Esomar business.

It reads:

I undersign my undertaking to:

  • act in the best interest of Esomar above commercial interests
  • act in the best interest of all Esomar members
  • act in the best international interest not just national interests

I further confirm that I will adhere to the mission and values of Esomar in promoting

  • professional standards
  • professional development

I indicate my willingness

  • to spend time and energy in being an Esomar representative
  • to maintain the number of fully paid-up members during my term of appointment
  • to authorise the Appointments Committee to investigate or check any points that they feel important to the appointment

The charter was accompanied by a letter explaining the Esomar council’s decision to revoke Anderson’s status as representative after he publicly criticised the efforts of the Council of American Survey Research Organisations to establish a committee to audit US companies who wished to adhere to the ISO research process quality standards, ISO 20252 and 26362.

His stance brought him into direct conflict with Esomar, which is a supporter and promoter of the ISO standards and maintains a working relationship with Casro.

“Our communication highlighted our support for Tom’s individual opinion and free speech, but requested that he, as a representative, respect long-standing relationships and commonly shared objectives,” said the letter.

Official Esomar spokesmen were not immediately available to comment on the charter today, but staff confirmed that the documents were genuine.

Staff said representatives had been asked to sign similar charters in the past, but it is thought that the last time such a request was made was around 2003/2004.

The timing of this latest request has of course raised eyebrows, with some seeing it as a stern reminder from Esomar of their responsibilities. Esomar itself characterises the communication as a response to requests it says it has received from representatives keen for clarification about the requirements of their roles.

As to the crucial question of what would happen to those representatives who refused to sign the charter, one Esomar staff member said they would expect there to be a discussion about any concerns they might have.


1 Comment

13 years ago

A pledge! That's certainly an interesting way to open the organisation up for free professional discussion. I think one big out take from this recent brouhaha is that ESOMAR does not have an adequate listening process - no real forum for exchanging ideas and discussing policy. Sooner or later there is going to be a conflice between this caluse: "•act in the best interest of all Esomar members" and this next clause: "•act in the best interest of Esomar above commercial interests." To use a metaphor from another profession - when doctors sign a Hippocratic Oath to save lives above all else, they inevitably buy themselves into a conflict with health administrators or hospital management who have other realities to juggle, such as stretching thin budgets. Very often the doctors will be a loggerheads with their own employers - but, by and large, the system is flexible enough to withstand this. ESOMAR has not demonstrated similar flexibility, and this latest move - to reintroduce a Pledge (!) - is symptomatic of a desire for control, rather than a desire for open discussion. I'm quite disappointed. Such intractability is not a good recipe for ESOMAR. In today's environment where professionals can form professional groups and affiliations, ESOMAR is driving a tank onto some very thin ice.

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