An integrated strategic benchmarking model for assessing international alliances with application to NATO membership enlargement

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Purpose: Promoting security, stability and cooperation is the raison d'être of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and these are the aims of its strategy of membership enlargement. The incentive of NATO membership has led some former Warsaw Pact applicant countries to reform their political systems, transform their economies, deal with corruption and improve social justice and human rights. However, controversy has surrounded NATO's enlargement because of the current ambiguous and subjective decision‐making process and the effect that it could have on the organization. This paper aims to present the results of a study to develop a benchmarking model as a means to assist NATO evaluate and screen potential applicant countries.

Design/methodology/approach: A novel and structured multiple‐criteria decision analysis model that considers specific NATO applicant evaluation criteria and environmental forces is offered and a template for a membership evaluation process is proposed. A total of 120 researchers in France, Germany, Switzerland and the USA provided the necessary data on the 23 countries that are analyzed in order to develop the benchmarking model. Four distinct categories were established to categorize these countries. The ranking of the countries based on Euclidean distance from the ideal state is illustrated with a classification schema outlining four typologies as beneficial believers, detrimental disadvantaged, perilous partners and apathetic acquaintances.

Findings: Among the potential applicant countries considered as “beneficial believers” are Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Ireland while other countries, such as, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Montenegro, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are considered as “detrimental disadvantaged”. Furthermore, Russia and Ukraine were identified as “perilous partners” and Malta, FYR Macedonia, Cyprus, Serbia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia and Moldova were identified as “apathetic acquaintances”.

Practical implications: This model could be applied to other supranational organizations and multinational firms when assessing international strategic alliances.

Originality/value: The paper presents the results of a study to develop a benchmarking model as an aid in evaluating and screening potential NATO applicant countries.




Tavana, M. and O’Connor, A. (2010) ‘An Integrated Strategic Benchmarking Model for Assessing International Alliances with Application to NATO Membership Enlargement,’ Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 791-806.