Home > Uncategorized > Cooperation vs. Collaboration vs. Coordination

Cooperation vs. Collaboration vs. Coordination

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Cooperation (from Latin co- + operari to work) and collaboration (from Latin com- + laborare to labor) are synonyms, with cooperation being the more common term. Both refer to working together to achieve a goal. Collaboration is used more to describe intellectual, inter-organizational joint work, (and also working with an occupying enemy force). Coordination (from Latin co- + … ordinare to arrange) refers to harmonious movement of different parts or groups; the organization of different parts to work together.
Merriam-Webster, Encarta, Cybernetics Dictionary
A concise and clear general definition is from (Malone and Crowston, 1991): “Coordination is the act of managing interdependencies between activities.” Coordination or Co-Ordination is “the ability to reduce all-together, in oder to generate an only one all.” (Alessio Bissoli, 2006) Coordination, co-ordination is the regulation of diverse elements into an integrated and harmonious operation. Coordination means integrating or linking together different parts of an organization to accomplish a collective set of tasks.

*coordination* is required for all collective activities (bringing the parts together in a way that yields synergy)
* cooperation* employs linear procedures to leverage collective potential (if each participant does exactly ‘x’, then a predictable ‘y’ is the result)
*collaboration* is different in that through nonlinear creative processes (no one knows exactly what they have to do until they do it, and even then the outcome is unknown) a shared understanding is created amongst the participants – one unique to those participants and that collaboration.

By way of example;
coordination = a web search: bringing together parts of the web in a way that creates meaning, i.e. synergy.
cooperation = social bookmarking: if many people tag their webpages using a particular platform, and a particular procedure, a resource much larger than any individual could develop may be generated
collaboration = Wikipedia editing: read an entry, contribute in any number of modes (form, content, discussion, etc) and from an infinite number of perspectives (the multiplicity of opinion and creative volition) one becomes part of a highly complex negotiation of a shared understanding (no one owns or comprehends the whole but contributes a part of it).

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