Drawing from the literature and for the purpose of my research, I have settled on the following definition of the concept of collaboration:
‘A social process, involving conscious joint effort and cooperation between two or more parties to voluntarily pool their diverse complementary expertise, perspectives, knowledge, skills and resources for the purpose of achieving a common goal or outcome that serves their individual interests far better than what they could achieve independently’ (Halhal W; Gray B; Kayser, 1994; Crammer: 1998; Lucas: 1998; Lasker, Weiss and Miller 2001: 183; Limerick and Cunnington:(1993).
Collaboration, as an interactive process between two or more people, creates value through its commitment to a common purpose and diverse thinking. Collaboration may be either a formal or informal social process, between individuals, groups, departments, institutions and countries (J Sylvan Katz and Ben R Martin:1995).
Aligned to the notion of integrated diversity, the collaborative process includes a group of stakeholders diverse enough to represent and respond to the critical components of the problem (Walker: 2000).
Dettmer, Thurston and Dyck, (1996) observe that collaboration also extends beyond making connections, working with others or sharing activities and resources. They suggest, along with Mintzberg et al, that the essence of collaboration is where parties work or act together to accomplish a mutual goal that benefits the person, group and organization.
Chris Huxham explains that collaboration achieves what would be difficult or impossible for an organisation to do on its own, that is providing the collaborative advantage of creating or adding value beyond what all parties involved could achieve independently.
Collaboration has also been identified through a review of the literature as the key objective of mutual gains negotiation. What is apparent from the literature is that a strong nexus exists between collaborative enterprise, relationships and negotiation skills. We will explore these links in later posts.
The next post in this series will discuss the emergence of the collaborative enterprise why it has been chosen as a research topic.