Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to realize or achieve something successfully. Collaboration is very similar to, but more closely aligned than, cooperation, and both are an opposite of competition. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. Teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.
Structured methods of collaboration encourage introspection of behavior and communication. These methods specifically aim to increase the success of teams as they engage in collaborative problem solving.
Forms, rubrics, charts and graphs are useful in these situations to objectively document personal traits with the goal of improving performance in current and future projects. Collaboration is also present in opposing goals exhibiting the notion of adversarial collaboration, though this is not a common case for using the word.
Classical examples of collaboration
Following are some examples of successful collaboration efforts in the past.
Trade originated with the start of communication in prehistoric times. Trading was the main facility of prehistoric people, who bartered goods and services from each other when there was no such thing as the modern day currency. Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce from circa 150,000 years ago. Trade exists for many reasons. Due to specialisation and division of labor, most people concentrate on a small aspect of production, trading for other products. Trade exists between regions because different regions have a comparative advantage in the production of some tradable commodity, or because different regions' size allows for the benefits of mass production. As such, trade at market prices between locations benefits both locations.
The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political or spiritual vision. They also share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include cohousing, residential land trusts, ecovillages, communes, kibbutzim, ashrams, and housing cooperatives. Typically, new members of an intentional community are selected by the community's existing membership, rather than by real-estate agents or land owners (if the land is not owned by the community).
- Hutterite, Austria (16th century)
- Housing units are built and assigned to individual families but belong to the colony and there is very little personal property. Meals are taken by the entire colony in a common long room.
- Oneida Community, Oneida, New York (1848)
- The Oneida Community practiced Communalism (in the sense of communal property and possessions) and Mutual Criticism, where every member of the community was subject to criticism by committee or the community as a whole, during a general meeting. The goal was to eliminate bad character traits.
- Early Kibbutz settlements founded near Jerusalem (1890)
- A Kibbutz is an Israeli collective community. The movement combines socialism and Zionism in a form of practical Labor Zionism, founded at a time when independent farming was not practical or perhaps more correctly—not practicable. Forced by necessity into communal life, and inspired by their own ideology, the kibbutz members developed a pure communal mode of living that attracted interest from the entire world. While the kibbutzim lasted for several generations as utopian communities, most of today's kibbutzim are scarcely different from the capitalist enterprises and regular towns to which the kibbutzim were originally supposed to be alternatives.
Collaboration under capitalism
Ayn Rand utterly rejected the notion that one should live an isolated life. She recognized that a crucial way we “develop ourselves” and pursue our rational self-interest is by building strong relationships with other people, whether in business, friendship, romance, or any other kind of life-serving relationship. Rand wrote hundreds of pages about the virtues and benefits of collaborating with others to mutual advantage. She also recognized that, as participants in capitalism, “we’re all connected” through the voluntary division of labor in the free market, where value is exchanged always for value. In presenting her theory of rational egoism, Rand explained why acting in one’s self-interests often entails “looking out” for others to protect the innocent from injustice, to aid our friends and allies, and to protect and support our friends and loved ones.
Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics and economics that looks at situations where multiple players make decisions in an attempt to maximize their returns. The first documented discussion of it is a letter written by James Waldegrave, 1st Earl Waldegrave in 1713. Antoine Augustin Cournot's Researches into the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth in 1838 provided the first general theory. It was not until 1928 that this became a recognized, unique field when John von Neumann published a series of papers. Von Neumann's work in game theory culminated in the 1944 book The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern.
The term military-industrial complex refers to a close and symbiotic relationship among a nation's armed forces, its private industry, and associated political and commercial interests. In such a system, the military is dependent on industry to supply material and other support, while the defense industry depends on government for revenue.
- Skunk Works
- Skunk Works is a term used in engineering and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects. Founded at Lockheed in 1943, the team developed highly innovative aircraft in short time frames, even beating its first deadline by 37 days. Creator of the organization, Kelly Johnson is said to have been an 'organizing genius' and had fourteen basic operating rules.
- Manhattan Project
- The Manhattan Project was the project to develop the first nuclear weapon (atomic bomb) during World War II by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Formally designated as the Manhattan Engineer District, it refers specifically to the period of the project from 1941–1946 under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under the administration of General Leslie R. Groves. The scientific research was directed by American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.
- While the aforementioned persons were influential in the project itself, the value of this project as an influence on organized collaboration is better attributed to Vannevar Bush. In early 1940, Bush lobbied for the creation of the National Defense Research Committee. Frustrated by previous bureaucratic failures in implementing technology in World War I, Bush sought to organize the scientific power of the United States for greater success.
- The project succeeded in developing and detonating three nuclear weapons in 1945: a test detonation of a plutonium implosion bomb on July 16 (the Trinity test) near Alamogordo, New Mexico; an enriched uranium bomb code-named "Little Boy" on August 6 over Hiroshima, Japan; and a second plutonium bomb, code-named "Fat Man" on August 9 over Nagasaki, Japan.
As a discipline, Project Management developed from different fields of application including construction, engineering, and defense. In the United States, the forefather of project management is Henry Gantt, called the father of planning and control techniques, who is famously known for his use of the "bar" chart as a project management tool, for being an associate of Frederick Winslow Taylor's theories of scientific management, and for his study of the work and management of Navy ship building. His work is the forerunner to many modern project management tools including the work breakdown structure (WBS) and resource allocation.
The 1950s marked the beginning of the modern project management era. Again, in the United States, prior to the 1950s, projects were managed on an ad hoc basis using mostly Gantt charts, and informal techniques and tools. At that time, two mathematical project scheduling models were developed: (1) the "Program Evaluation and Review Technique" or PERT, developed as part of the United States Navy's (in conjunction with the Lockheed Corporation) Polaris missile submarine program; and (2) the "Critical Path Method" (CPM) developed in a joint venture by both DuPont Corporation and Remington Rand Corporation for managing plant maintenance projects. These mathematical techniques quickly spread into many private enterprises.
In 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed to serve the interest of the project management industry. The premise of PMI is that the tools and techniques of project management are common even among the widespread application of projects from the software industry to the construction industry. In 1981, the PMI Board of Directors authorized the development of what has become A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), standards and guidelines of practice that are widely used throughout the profession. The International Project Management Association (IPMA), founded in Europe in 1967, has undergone a similar development and instituted the IPMA Project Baseline. Both organizations are now participating in the development of a global project management standard.
- Black Mountain College
- Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier and other former faculty of Rollins College, Black Mountain was experimental by nature and committed to an interdisciplinary approach, attracting a faculty which included many of America's leading visual artists, poets, and designers.
- Operating in a relatively isolated rural location with little budget, Black Mountain College inculcated an informal and collaborative spirit, and over its lifetime attracted a venerable roster of instructors. Some of the innovations, relationships and unexpected connections formed at Black Mountain would prove to have a lasting influence on the postwar American art scene, high culture, and eventually pop culture. Buckminster Fuller met student Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain, and the result was the first geodesic dome (improvised out of slats in the school's back yard); Merce Cunningham formed his dance company; and John Cage staged his first happening.
- Not a haphazardly conceived venture, Black Mountain College was a consciously directed liberal arts school that grew out of the progressive education movement. In its day it was a unique educational experiment for the artists and writers who conducted it, and as such an important incubator for the American avant garde. Black Mountain proved to be an important precursor to and prototype for many of the alternative colleges of today ranging from the University of California, Santa Cruz to Hampshire College and Evergreen State College, among others.
- Dr. Wolff-Michael Roth and Stuart Lee of the University of Victoria assert that until the early 1990s the individual was the 'unit of instruction' and the focus of research. The two observed that researchers and practitioners switched to the idea that knowing is 'better' thought of as a cultural practice. Roth and Lee also claim that this led to changes in learning and teaching design in which students were encouraged to share their ways of doing mathematics, history, science, with each other. In other words, that children take part in the construction of consensual domains, and 'participate in the negotiation and institutionalisation of … meaning'. In effect, they are participating in learning communities.
- This analysis does not take account of the appearance of Learning communities in the United States in the early 1980s. For example, The Evergreen State College, which is widely considered a pioneer in this area, established an intercollegiate learning community in 1984. In 1985, this same college established The Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education, which focuses on collaborative education approaches, including learning communities as one of its centerpieces.
Although relatively rare compared with collaboration in popular music, there have been some notable examples of music written in collaboration between classical composers. Perhaps the best-known examples are:
- Hexameron, a set of variations for solo piano on a theme from Vincenzo Bellini's opera I puritani. It was written and first performed in 1837. The contributors were Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, Carl Czerny, Sigismond Thalberg, Johann Peter Pixis, and Henri Herz.
- The F-A-E Sonata, a sonata for violin and piano, written in 1853 as a gift for the violinist Joseph Joachim. The composers were Albert Dietrich (first movement), Robert Schumann (second and fourth movements), and Johannes Brahms (third movement).
The romanticized notion of a lone, genius artist has existed since the time of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, published in 1568. Vasari promulgated the idea that artistic skill was endowed upon chosen individuals by gods, which created an enduring and largely false popular misunderstanding of many artistic processes. Artists have used collaboration to complete large scale works for centuries, but the myth of the lone artist was not questioned by the public consciousness until the 1960s and 1970s.
Collaborative art groups
- Dada (1913)
- Fluxus (1957)
- Situationist International (1957)
- Experiments in Art and Technology (1967)
- Mujeres Muralistas (1973)
- Colab (1977)
- Guerrilla Girls (1985)
- SITO (1993)
Ballet is, almost always, by nature a collaborative art form. Ballet needs music, it needs dancers, it needs costumes, a venue, lighting, etc. Hypothetically, one person could control all of this. But most often, every work of ballet is the by product of collaboration. From the earliest formal works of ballet, to the great 19th century masterpieces of Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa, to the 20th century masterworks of George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky, to today’s ballet companies, such as New York’s BalletCollective, feature strong collaborative connections between choreographers, composers and costume designers are essential. Within dance as an art form, there is also the collaboration between choreographer and dancer. The choreographer creates a movement in her/his head and then physically demonstrates the movement to the dancer, which the dancer sees and attempts to either mimic or interpret - two or more people striving for a connected goal.
Collaboration in business can be found both inter- and intra-organization and ranges from the simplicity of a partnership and crowd funding to the complexity of a multinational corporation. Inter-organizational collaboration depicts relationship between two or several organizations in which the participating parties agree to invest resources, mutually achieve goals, share information, resources, rewards and responsibilities, as well as jointly make decisions and solve problems. Collaboration between public, private and voluntary sectors can be effective in tackling complex policy problems, but may be handled more effectively by committed boundary-spanning teams and networks than by formal organizational structures. Collaboration between team members allows for better communication within the organization and throughout the supply chains. It is a way of coordinating different ideas from numerous people to generate a wide variety of knowledge. Collaboration with a selected few firms as opposed to collaboration with a large number of different firms has been shown to positively impact firm performance and innovation outcomes. The recent improvement in technology has provided the world with high speed internet, wireless connection, and web-based collaboration tools like blogs, and wikis, and has as such created a "mass collaboration." People from all over the world are efficiently able to communicate and share ideas through the internet, or even conferences, without any geographical barriers. The power of social networks is beginning to permeate into business culture where many collaborative uses are being found including file sharing and knowledge transfer. Evan Rosen, the author of The Culture of Collaboration, defines collaboration as "working together to create value while sharing virtual or physical space." According to Rosen, command-and-control organizational structures inhibit collaboration and replacing these obsolete structures allows collaboration to flourish.
See also : Management cybernetics
A plethora of studies have shown that collaboration can be a powerful tool towards higher achievement and increased productivity since collective efficacy can significantly boost groups’ aspirations, motivational investment, morale, and resilience to challenges. However, a four-year study of interorganizational collaboration by Fischer and colleagues at the University of Oxford, found that successful collaboration can be rapidly derailed through external policy steering, particularly where it undermines relations built on trust.
On a more specific level, coworking spaces are businesses dedicated to providing a space for freelancers to work with others in a collaborative environment. Collaboration is one of the five coworking core values: Collaboration, openness, community, accessibility and sustainability.
In recent years, co-teaching has become one of the most widely used models of collaboration, found in classrooms across all grade levels and content areas. Once only regarded as collaboration between special education and general education teachers, it is now more generally defined as “…two professionals delivering substantive instruction to a diverse group of students in a single physical space."
As classrooms have become increasingly diverse, so too have the challenges for educators. Due to the diverse needs of students with designated special needs, English languages learners (ELL), and students of varied academic levels, teachers have been led to develop new approaches that provide additional support for their students. In practice, this is an inclusive model where students are not removed from the classroom to receive separate instruction, but rather they remain and receive collaborative instruction by both their general teacher and special education teachers.
Societal changes that have taken place over the past few decades allows new ways of conceptualizing collaboration, and to understand the evolution and expansion of these types of relationships. For example, economic changes that have taken place domestically and internationally have resulted in the transformation from an industry-dependent economy to an information-centered economy that is dependent on new technologies and expansion of industries that provide services. From an educational standpoint, such transformations were projected through federal reports, such as A Nation at Risk in 1983 and What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future in 1996. In these reports, economic success could be assured if students developed the capacity to learn how to “manage teams… and…work together successfully in teams”.
The continuing development of Web 2.0 technologies, such as wikis, blogs, multiplayer games, online communities, and Twitter, among others, has changed the manner in which students communicate and collaborate. Teachers are increasingly using collaborative software to establish virtual learning environments (VLEs). This allows them to share learning materials and feedback with both students and in some cases, parents. See also:
- Collaborative Partnerships: Business/Industry-Education
- Learning circle
- Collaborative partnerships
- Four Cs of 21st century learning
- 21st century skills
Musical collaboration occurs when musicians in different places or groups work on the same album or song. Typically, in today's music word, multiple parties are involved (singers, songwriters, lyrisits, composers, and producers) come together to create one song. For example, one specific collaboration from recent times (2015) was the song "FourFiveSeconds". This single represents a type of collaboration because it is a form of art that was developed by multiple artists with the inclusion of Rihanna (a recent pop idol), Paul McCartney (former guitarist and vocalist for the Beatles), and Kanye West (a currently popular rapper). Collaboration between musicians, especially with regards to jazz, is often heralded as the epitome of complex collaborative practice. Special websites as well as software have been created to facilitate musical collaboration over the Internet resulting in the emergence of Online Bands.
Several awards exist specifically for collaboration in music:
- Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals—awarded since 1988
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals—awarded since 1995
- Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration—awarded since 2002
Collaboration in entertainment is a relatively new phenomenon brought on with the advent of social media, reality TV, and video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. Collaboration occurs when writers, directors, actors, producers and other individuals or groups work on the same television show, short film, or feature-length film. A revolutionary system has been developed by Will Wright for the production of the TV series title Bar Karma on CurrentTV. Special web-based software, titled Storymaker, has been written to facilitate plot collaboration over the Internet. Organizations such as Orange County Screenwriters Association bring together professional and amateur writers and filmmakers in a collaborative manner for entertainment development.
Collaboration in publishing can be as simple as dual-authorship or as complex as commons-based peer production. Technological examples include Usenet, e-mail lists, blogs and Wikis while 'brick and mortar' examples include monographs (books) and periodicals such as newspapers, journals and magazines.
Though there is no political institution organizing the sciences on an international level, a self-organized, global network had formed in the late 20th century. Observed by the rise in co-authorships in published papers, Wagner and Leydesdorff found international collaborations to have doubled from 1990 to 2005. While collaborative authorships within nations has also risen, this has done so at a slower rate and is not cited as frequently.
In medicine the physician assistant - physician relationship involves a collaborative plan to be on file with each state board of medicine where the PA works. This plan formally delineates the scope of practice approved by the physician.
Due to the complexity of today's business environment, collaboration in technology encompasses a broad range of tools that enable groups of people to work together including social networking, instant messaging, team spaces, web sharing, audio conferencing, video, and telephony. Broadly defined, any technology that facilitates linking of two or more humans to work together can be considered a collaborative tool. Wikipedia, Blogs, even Twitter are collaborative tools. Many large companies are developing enterprise collaboration strategies and standardizing on a collaboration platform to allow their employees, customers and partners to intelligently connect and interact.
Enterprise collaboration tools (see analyst firm Real Story Group's graphic for examples) are centered on attaining collective intelligence and staff collaboration at the organization level, or with partners. These include features such as staff networking, expert recommendations, information sharing, expertise location, peer feedback, and real-time collaboration. At the personal level, this enables employees to enhance social awareness and their profiles and interactions Collaboration encompasses both asynchronous and synchronous methods of communication and serves as an umbrella term for a wide variety of software packages. Perhaps the most commonly associated form of synchronous collaboration is web conferencing using tools such as Cisco TelePresence, Cisco WebEx Meetings, HP Halo Telepresence Solutions, GoToMeeting Web Conferencing, or Microsoft Live Meeting, but the term can easily be applied to IP telephony, instant messaging, and rich video interaction with telepresence, as well. Examples of asynchronous collaboration software include Cisco WebEx Connect, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Sharepoint, Atlassian Confluence and MediaWiki.
The effectiveness of a collaborative effort is driven by three critical factors: - Communication - Content Management - Workflow control
- The Internet
- The low cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills has made collaborative work dramatically easier. Not only can a group cheaply communicate and test, but the wide reach of the Internet allows such groups to easily form in the first place, even among niche interests. An example of this is the free software movement in software development which produced GNU and Linux from scratch and has taken over development of Mozilla and OpenOffice.org (formerly known as Netscape Communicator and StarOffice).
- Commons-based peer production
- Commons-based peer production is a term coined by Yale's Law professor Yochai Benkler to describe a new model of economic production in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated (usually with the aid of the internet) into large, meaningful projects, mostly without traditional hierarchical organization or financial compensation. He compares this to firm production (where a centralized decision process decides what has to be done and by whom) and market-based production (when tagging different prices to different jobs serves as an attractor to anyone interested in doing the job).
- Examples of products created by means of commons-based peer production include Linux, a computer operating system; Slashdot, a news and announcements website; Kuro5hin, a discussion site for technology and culture; Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia; and Clickworkers, a collaborative scientific work. Another example is Socialtext which is a software that uses tools such as wikis and weblogs and helps companies to create a collaborative work environment.
- Massively distributed collaboration
- The term massively distributed collaboration was coined by Mitchell Kapor, in a presentation at UC Berkeley on 2005-11-09, to describe an emerging activity of wikis and electronic mailing lists and blogs and other content-creating virtual communities online.
Since World War II the term "collaboration" acquired a negative meaning as referring to persons and groups which help a foreign occupier of their country—due to actual use by people in European countries who worked with and for the Nazi German occupiers. Linguistically, "collaboration" implies more or less equal partners who work together—which was the meaning the Nazi German occupiers were suggesting for ideological reasons but was obviously not the case as one party was an army of occupation and the other were people of the occupied country living under the power of this army. Thus, the term "collaboration" acquired during World War II the additional sense of criminal deeds in the service of the occupying power, including complicity with the occupying power in murder, persecutions, pillage, and economic exploitation as well as participation in a puppet government.
The use of "collaboration" to mean "traitorous cooperation with the enemy," dates from 1940, originally in reference to the Vichy Regime in France, the French civilians who sympathised with Nazi Germany's doctrine, and voluntary troops (LVF) who fought against the Free French and later De Gaulle's French Force. Since then, the words collaboration and collaborateur may have this very pejorative meaning in French (and the abbreviation collabo has only this pejorative and insulting meaning). Nonetheless, collaboration and collaborateur have kept in French their original positive acceptations –with, for example, collaborateur still commonly used in referring to co-workers.
In order to make a distinction, the more specific term Collaborationism is often used for this phenomenon of collaboration with an occupying army. However, there is no water-tight distinction; "Collaboration" and "Collaborator", as well as "Collaborationism" and "Collaborationist", are often used in this pejorative sense—and even more so, the equivalent terms in French and other languages spoken in countries which experienced direct Nazi occupation.
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- Classical music written in collaboration
- Collaboration platform
- Collaboration science
- Collaborative editing
- Collaborative fiction
- Collaborative governance
- Collaborative innovation network
- Collaborative leadership
- Collaborative learning-work
- Collaborative search engine
- Collaborative software
- Collaborative project
- Collaborative translation
- Collaborative writing
- Community film
- Conference call
- Critical thinking
- Design thinking
- Digital Collaboration
- Intranet portal
- Knowledge management
- Learning circle
- Mass collaboration
- Problem solving
- Role-based collaboration
- The Culture of Collaboration
- Commons-based peer production
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