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Put a leader on that horse (association).


The primary subject matter of this case involves the strategic direction of a not-for-profit equine breed association. Additional issues are organization structure, leadership, and financial stability. The case has a difficulty level of one, appropriate for freshman level courses. The case is designed for one class session and will require about two hours outside preparation.


The Arabian Horse Association is responsible for the breed registry, membership, marketing and promotion, and member programs for Arabian and Half-Arabian horses in the United States. The growth of the organization resulted in poor financial planning and no long term strategic plan to guide the organization.


This case provides an example of a non-profit organization in a specialized industry. While not a "for profit" organization, it still requires strategic planning and management to be successful. This case raises the important issue of developing a viable strategy for a not-for-profit organization. This case is best suited for an introductory undergraduate course in business that addresses strategic planning and management. The degree of difficulty is 'easy'. The case can be used for a group assignment, individual homework, or class discussion. Additional research can be conducted to expand the discussion questions, but the students can complete the assigned questions without additional information.

The web site of the Arabian Horse Association is . If students need help navigating the site, direct them to select the Market Development option. Here they will find the mission statement and objectives of the AHA. In addition, the MDP 2005 Year-In-Review Convention Presentation offers information regarding the significant changes made in the organization.

A related web site for the Quarter Horse Association is This web site provides a comparison to that of the AHA. The mission statement and details of this organization are easily found by clicking The Association link, then clicking the Who We Are tab on the menu bar of The Association web page, and then selecting the appropriate option from the corresponding drop-down menu. The ease of navigation of this site points out the need for a revision to the site of the AHA.


1. What one aspect of strategic planning was the most beneficial to this organization and its restructuring? Explain how it helped them.

The most significant aspect of strategic planning was recognizing the need to have a plan. This resulted in the following changes:

* Following best practices to establish a new structure that included staffing the positions with professionals in information systems, marketing, and finance.

* Improving information systems most likely generated improvements in registration information, tracking Breeders Sweepstakes information, and the maintenance of the web site.

* Conducting market research to determine the appropriate client base allowed the organization to increase membership from its previous decline.

* Establishing best practices in finance allowed the organization to generate revenue to become solvent. The Breeders Sweepstakes is no longer running at a loss.

2. Evaluate the benefits and pitfalls of this rapid restructure.

The benefits of combining the Arabian Horse Registry and the International Arabian Horse Association into the Arabian Horse Association are:

* The most significant benefit of the restructure was the awareness of the lack of a strategic plan and the effort of the organization to correct that situation at the request of its members.

* The new organization can operate more efficiently by eliminating the redundancy of activities in the two organizations.

* The promotion of the Arabian horse through two organizations must have been confusing to prospective buyers. An individual trying to decide between the purchase of an Arabian versus a half-Arabian previously would have had to deal with two competing organizations. Now a prospective owner can be advised through experts in one organization by pointing out the differences of the two types of breeds.

The pitfalls of this rapid restructure were:

* There was probably membership loss due to member loyalty to the former organizations. Explaining the reasons for the change could have convinced members to make the change to the new organization.

* Explaining the restructure and establishing new connections to other equestrian organizations and publications must have taken a massive effort and must have caused major confusion for a short time.

3. What suggestions would you make to the Arabian Horse Association for future strategic planning?

The most significant area of strategic planning as indicated by the mission statement is the promotion of the breed to prospective owners. Setting goals for growth in number of members will have the most positive impact on the organization. Improving communications on the web site to make it more user-friendly can provide the promotional material that will attract new members. This is where comparison to the American Quarter Horse Association would be most helpful as it is the largest breed in the United States.

4. What would you have done with this organization to correct the situation after the merger?

The market study began with the membership and then expanded to identify successful strategies used by other equine breed associations. The membership study included researching how people used their horses for show or pleasure and how many of them were still breeding their horses.

This organization had never used traditional strategic planning methods in the past. The new leadership undertook basic strategic planning methods and formulated a plan for the next 5 years and presented it to the membership. The new plan included bringing in new professional people to address issues like marketing and information systems as part of the permanent staff. These methods were already in use by other successful breed associations. Their market study of the membership revealed that the majority of the membership did not show their horses at horse shows. This was a major departure from the thinking of the past that horse shows were the most important issue for the association.

LaVon Green, Purdue University Calumet

Susan E. Conners, Purdue University Calumet

Sherry Green, Purdue University Calumet

Michael Mick, Purdue University Calumet
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:NOTES; Arabian Horse Association
Author:Green, LaVon; Conners, Susan E.; Green, Sherry; Mick, Michael
Publication:Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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