Sunday, December 18, 2011

Collaboration, Coordination, and Cooperation

cooperationImage by glsims99 via Flickr

In modern times, collaboration, coordination, and cooperation are three leadership concepts widely used in organizational management. If used effectively, these three concepts increase productivity, augment better communication procedures, and enhance better working atmosphere. According to Stein (1982), coordination allows different actors to converge at equal equilibriums. Thus, coordination is an arbitrary convention where no actor wishes to lose in case of market competition. Often, actors adapt contextual rules where for example, like in an intersection, drivers avoid head-on collision. In this case, both coordinate a plan that allow one driver to proceed while the other yields. Coordination enables leaders having strategic plans to bring together various sectors of an organization under one umbrella without harming the autonomous working principles of each and every segment.

Collaboration is an important working feature that embodies teamwork, partnership, alliance or group effort in ensuring the success of any organization. The exclusion of one group in a collaborative network is cause for failure and a deviation or departure from traditional working relationships (Thompson, Perry & Miller, 2009). According to Sharma and Kearins (2010), collaboration among members develops an enhanced understanding of the economic, social, and environmental factors that may be affecting an organization. However, according to Prins (2010), moving away from competition to collaboration may lead to drifting from initial objectives and multi-stakeholder approach attributable to apprehension of an embryonic process. This can happen when parties are driven by self-interest and not organizational goals and expectations. Sincerity has to flourish among stakeholders when instituting collaborative endeavors or else there will be nothing to salvage if disingenuousness prevails.

Cooperation entails working together in an atmosphere of compliance while having organizational goals and expectations at heart. Cooperation is a synchronous movement practiced among groups with identical agenda. Armies move in marching order as a mark of discipline; churches have choirs that sing in harmonious synchrony; and corporations work in concert to achieve positive outcomes (Wiltermuth & Heath, 2008). Cooperation has been so effective in the last few decades mainly as a result of increased human interaction, improved communication, and the rise of globalization. We often hear phrases like departmental cooperation, international cooperation, social cooperation, cross-border cooperation, religious cooperation, military cooperation, and organizational-level cooperation to refer to humans joining hands to break a barrier and reach success. When collaboration, coordination, and cooperation become tripartite working impressions in organizations, increased harmonious relationships and enhanced productivity will prevail.


Prins, L. (2010). From competition to collaboration: Critical challenges and dynamics in multiparty collaboration. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. Vol. 46, 3: pp. 281-312

Stein, A.A. (1982). Coordination and collaboration: Regimes in an anarchic world. International Organization. Vol. 36, No. 2pp. 299-324.

Thompson, A.M., Perry, J.L., & Miller, T.K. (2009). Conceptualizing and measuring collaboration. Journal of public administration research theory. Volume 19, Issue1, Pp. 23-56.

Sharma, A. & Kearins, K. (2010). Interorganizational collaboration for regional sustainability: What happens when organizational representatives come together? Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. Vol. 47 no. 2 168-203.

Wiltermuth, S.S., & Heath C. (2008). Research report: Synchrony and cooperation.
Department of Organizational Behavior, Stanford University. Volume 20—Number 1. Retrieved from
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