When the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville visited the U.S. during the early 19th century, he famously wrote of the unique propensity for Americans to organize.
"Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite," he wrote in his book Democracy in America. "Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States."
I am, of course, prejudiced, but I'm also reminded often of the value—and power—associations have. In the U.S., we do things that in other countries, as Tocqueville noted, are left to the government.
A few years ago, NRCA was visited by the senior executives of a large Russian roofing materials manufacturing company. They wanted to understand how codes and standards are developed in the U.S. Now, that's hard enough to explain to someone in the U.S. and impossible to explain to Russians, especially through an interpreter. But we tried.