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Managing Collaboration Across Organizational & Cultural and Boundaries B325


Importance of Collaboration

New Product Development (NPD) and innovation have become very important for companies to succeed (Chesbrough, 2003; Cooper, 2011). In the intensely competitive business environment of today, companies that are operating on a global basis are unable to survive on their own and are under the need to form collaboration or an alliance with other companies so as to provide attractive offerings. Potential benefits associated with forming strategic alliances include asset flexibility, accessing to new markets at a faster pace new and complementary competencies, expanded offerings, economies of scale, improved resource utilization, risk reduction and new products and technology (Chesbrough, 2003; Meade et al., 1997; Melohn, 1994; Shamdasani and Sheth, 1995).

Managing a successful collaboration includes, compatible goals, commitment, co-operative cultures, complementary skills, equal risk between parties and trust whereas, challenges include managing information, contracting, NPD, resources, globalization and technologies (Brouthers et al., 1995; Distanont et al., 2011; Distanont et al., 2013).

Collaboration can be explained as a process through which different people who see different aspects of a particular problem can come together and explore their differences in a constructive manner and look for solutions that go beyond their own limited vision (B. Gray, 1989). The collaboration has the characteristics through which it can generate new solutions and new ideas that are emerging from the interplay of all perspectives, knowledge as well as experience which is helpful in getting the job done and which can be obtained from people both within and outside the organization (Halinen and Törnroos, 1998).


Types of Collaboration

Previous collaboration models focused more on teams and were rather more formal and structured collaboration models (Katz, JS and Hicks D, 1995). However, there is far more option available now. Below mentioned are three types of collaboration and how they can be approached within an organization.

Team Collaboration:

In team collaboration, all members within the group are known, task independencies are clear, expected mutuality and clear goals and timelines. Every member is required to achieve their assigned goal within the given time frame. This type of collaboration suggests that there exists an explicit leadership, participants are receiving equal recognition and they will show a high level of cooperation (Buckley, P. and Casson, M. 1988). An example of this type of collaboration is that a team comprising of 5 people is working to draft a new marketing strategy within a defined set of resources. Team collaboration can also take place with external partners however, the mandate is clear and roles are pre-defined.

Community Collaboration:

There exists a shared area or domain of interest however; the focus is mainly on learning rather than on the task. Members of the collaborative team have a motive to develop their knowledge rather than completing the assigned project. People may visit communities in search of solutions for problems by seeking their advice and implementing it within their teams. Membership might be explicit or bounded but, time periods are often ongoing or open. Moreover, members are usually on an equal footing however, experienced practitioners have a higher status or power in the community. There also exists reciprocity in the group however it is not always on a one to one basis.

This makes this type of collaboration more useful since ethnographic consideration of dyadic groupings has illuminated the role of reciprocity in the implementation phase (Andrea Larsons, 1992). An example of community collaboration can be a community interested in drafting a marketing policy for a particular community and seeks help from members of that community. Community collaborations may also result in formalized team collaborations. When people within a group get to know about each other, they will be able to identify good fits for other people within the group along with bringing in new talent.

Network Collaboration:

This type of collaboration works beyond the relationship-centered nature that is the essence of team and community collaboration (Myers and Marquis, 1969; Trott, 2012). This form starts with an individual action as well as self-interest which are then added to the network as other individuals seek or contribute something from the network. Time-lines and membership are unbounded and open. Members do not have explicit roles and not every member knows every member within the group. Power, in this type of collaboration, is distributed and this type of collaboration mainly the introduction of social media which offers a universal internet connectivity option and the ability to get connected with different individuals across time and distance.

It is mainly the result of the prodigious information volume that is being created. Coping up with all types of situations at your own is impossible for an individual. Under such situations, networks serve as a mechanism for capturing information and knowledge which leads to the filtration and creation of new ideas.

Explaining network collaboration through an example can be related to the example provided in team collaboration. Here members use the bookmarking tool in websites which can be rendered as a social bookmarking tool. This will benefit the team and most probably the relative communities if they are also sharing bookmarks. Moreover, a wider network of people will also get benefited if they are interested in the topic. At the same time, the group members will also take advantage of bookmarks left by other people in the network and which is relevant for the work. This type of network offers benefits to not only the individual but, to a whole network of people jointly over and over again. The reciprocity is undefined as people act for self-interest which benefits a wide network.


Importance of Trust in Building Collaboration

Collaboration and trust can be rendered as reciprocal processes – they are dependent upon and foster each other. The collaboration exists between autonomous partners who elect to participate or not which makes the concept very unlikely that collaboration can develop without having trust in it. The collaboration comprises of investing time and energy along with resource sharing, responsibility as well as rewards which is difficult to measure without trust (Mattessich and Monsey, 1992). This aspect of sharing creates an environment of interdependence that all participants will willingly avoid unless they develop trust in their partners.

Increased collaboration has the probability of fostering increased trust within partners as they have experienced one another and have opportunities to witness their reliability, benevolence, honesty, openness and competency level of every partner. This accumulation of trust has been referred to as social capital and treats it as a real asset within communities (Putnam, 1993). In addition to this, Mishra (1996) argues that trust if fundamental in organizational crisis as it promotes effective collaboration that is much needed in an uncertain situation.

Empirical Evidence

Empirical evidence that links collaboration with trust is limited; however, provocative. Trust is found to mediate a manager to willingly participate in management practices. In places, where trust is absent, and managers are not willing to include organizational participants within the decision-making process so as to get benefited from their perspectives and insights. Moreover, trust is also found an important element in the effectiveness of a working group. According to Zand (1971), when a group works on a problem, there are two main concerns – first the problem itself and second is how members in the group relate to each other about the issue.

In groups, where there is a lower amount of trust, interpersonal relationships impeded the problem-solving aspect and distorted opinions about the problem whereas, groups having a trust level solved more effectively. Lastly, when employees are satisfied with their involvement level in decision making, they develop a greater amount of trust in those who are playing leadership roles (Driscoll, 1978).

Trust Development


Source: Bottery’s stages of trust development (Bottery, 2005)


Dennis and Michelle Reina, experts in organizational development identified three types of trust that are important for strategic alliances:

  • Communication trust
  • Contractual trust (Reina, Dennis S., and Michelle L. Reina, 2006)
  • Competence trust


Communication Trust: Communication trust involves frequent and honest communication. Teams tend to speak the truth and with good reasons. All team members maintain the confidentiality level, admit mistakes and are keen to seek as well as provide feedback. Their actions are similar to their words and vice-versa.

Contractual Trust: In this type of trust, all team members understand goals and every member shares a common understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Team members share mutual interest and boundaries are clear. Individuals fulfill all their responsibilities however; all team members are jointly responsible at the end.

Competence Trust: When competence trust is practiced; all team members tend to show respect towards the ability of others to fulfill their mutual responsibility. Team members give more importance to the learning and development process and seek feedback from others to achieve objectives. They respect the knowledge and skills of others; they honor all agreements and help each other.


Importance of Social Capital in Collaboration

One good strategy that is for developing capacity is by creating and linking collaborative networks. Strategic alliances that are to work on a particular community initiative makes efforts to get connected with a network of people so as to achieve their goals along with incorporating the knowledge and skills of people related to that particular group to achieve the objective on a more bigger platform (Chaskin, 2011). Social capital turned out to become an important component of collaboration and can be explained as the characteristics of social organizations like networks, norms, and trust which can foster the efficiency of the society by facilitating various coordinated actions.

Social capital comprises two concepts the first of which is structural social capital which includes social networks, collective participation and actions of the community and will develop with changes in a community like social services, policies, etc. The second concept is cognitive social capital which you can render as the feeling of trust, solidarity, cooperation, and reciprocity (Jacques, 2010).


Share of Total Benefits, %


Putnam (1995) has argued upon the fact that through social connectedness and community initiatives, communities and organizations are in a position to produce better results in organizations, foster economic development and reduce the crime rate. He also argues about the reasons for this which are:

  • Collaborative networks raise substantial norms of reciprocity and encourage social trust. In other words, people will have a sense of wellbeing by consistently helping and giving others. Through these networks, coordination and communication promoted which not only helps in amplifying reputations but, helps in resolving collective issues as well.
  • When political and economic negotiation included in dense networks for social interaction, motivations for resourcefulness people will be less significant. Moreover, these networks also enable community initiative by demonstrating previous collaboration successes which can serve as a cultural template for collaboration in the future.
  • Lastly, interaction networks widen the sense of self of the participants by transforming ‘I’ into ‘we’ along with increasing their taste for achieving collective benefits. They consider it more beneficial to work with each other (Putnam, 1995).

Building social capital allows collaborative networks to effectively communicate, identify their shared objectives, develop trust and seek consensus (Margerum, 2011: 182). Margerum, 2011: 182 identified five factors that are effective in measuring collaborative efforts. Along with ways through which these elements required to measure. These assessing factors and their measures summarized as follows:


Assessment Factors & Measures

Assessment Factors




Community Networks

Strong networks exist within communities within which the collaboration operates.


 Participation and its turnout

Volunteering rates in  community organizations

Number of memberships

Linked Stakeholders

Stakeholders are keeping link within social networks

Stakeholders’ membership network

Degree of communication through these networks

Amount of representativeness of all participating stakeholders


Collaboration aligned with the community through volunteers and members.

Number of volunteers

Total memberships and meeting attendees

Interviews with cross-sectional communities

Subscribers of newsletters


Collaboration holds an established reputation within the community.

Experience of the staff and it’s turnover

Perception awareness and perception of the community

Change agent reputation

Duration of collaboration

Implementation Programmes

Implementation programs tend to capitalize on various social networks based upon collaborations.

Programs linked to reputation.

Evaluation of the outputs and results of the program

The implementation approach designed to include existing linkages

Adapted from Margerum (2011: 188)


Importance of Knowledge in Building Collaboration

Knowledge management is a very common approach in improving performances of collaboration in organizations (Clarke and Cooper, 2000; Chen and Wei, 2008; Füller et al, 2012; Kong et al., 2012; Luo et al., 2012). Effective management of knowledge enhances and encourages collaboration among and between employees in their effort of pursuing innovative business practices within an organization. However; managing knowledge only is not responsible for innovation is collaborations. The reason is that knowledge management is a collaborative activity that is highly dependent upon the creation of a ‘shared context’ between all participants (Deng, 2008; Clarke and Cooper, 2000). The entire process of innovation depends on knowledge and how you created and shared within an organization. It has been highly recognized that knowledge management is an essential component of any organization to become successful.


Reformation of knowledge management for collaboration convergence requires reformatting the arrangement practices of knowledge for the convergence of different knowledge patrons and knowledge innovating participants so as to develop a strategic alliance so as to attain common goals and collective visions so as to improve the effectiveness of innovation (Chen, 2012). The knowledge center of a smart city project in Australia is a very good example of this role (An, 2013). The mechanism supporting this role is the social arrangement of knowledge stakeholders so that they can effectively play their role in harnessing capacities and promoting a better share of costs and benefits of managing different resources within a particular situation (An, 2013).


Roles of Knowledge Management

Roles Of




Description References
Collaboration Enhanced people-oriented effectiveness,

Arrangement reformation

An, 2013
Communication Improved process focused-efficiency,

Remediation of different activities

Chen and Wei, 2008;

Chen, 2012


Connectivity Developing of technology-based competitiveness,

Reconfiguration of all art facts

Gloor, 2006; Serrano, 2004;

Fischer, 2007; Cai,

2012; Füller et al,


Kong et al., 2012




Strategic alliances care formed mainly because organizations are under the pressure to do things practically right. The pressure of doing the right things at the right time dictates the adoption of the best available solutions instead of sitting back and waiting for the arrival of an ideal situation. Developing collaborations is useful for not only benefit the organization and its objectives but, it also offers benefits to a wider range of people within the network. Implementing collaboration requires the presence of certain important elements which include trust, social capital, and knowledge. Therefore, these three elements are crucial for developing effective collaboration and drafting a strategy. It will certainly offer benefits to the organization and the communities at large.






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