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Much of the evidence on collaboration reviewed focuses on the relationship between the production and transmission of knowledge--both explicit and tacit--through collaboration. The benefits of knowledge transmission through collaboration include supporting creativity and innovation, which afford opportunities to adapt and facilitate the capacity to absorb knowledge. These benefits are linked to improvements in the ability of individuals, teams, and organizations to perform their tasks. In the business sector, there is substantial documented evidence that companies with better collaborative management capabilities achieve superior financial and economic performance. Collaboration encourages innovation and boosts employees’ overall performance and loyalty. While the literature discusses the myriad benefits of collaboration, scholars have also noted the inherent challenges in ensuring the right balance of collaboration relative to organizational needs, goals and incentives.

 

In the development sector, documented evidence in support of collaboration remains relatively underdeveloped. However, qualitative case studies are beginning to illustrate the indirect benefits of collaboration in facilitating relationships that, in turn, spur innovation. For example,
in the 2015 ADAPT (Analysis Driven Agile Programming Techniques) program—launched by the IRC and Mercy Corps to research and field test adaptive management techniques in the sector—found that “Relationships and common identity built across the team, including outside work hours, can facilitate collaboration. Quarterly reviews, weekly staff meetings, and even daily briefings provide further opportunities to reinforce this culture.”. In one case study that the report analyzed collaboration across three different teams helped the RAIN program in Uganda develop new loan products.

 

In summary, the literature shows that collaboration can be an enabler and a barrier to organizational success. Collaboration is an enabler in the following ways:

  • Collaboration delivers best results when carried out strategically.
  • Collaboration has benefits within and between organizations, such as increasing efficiency, knowledge pooling, and building trust.
  • Collaboration is linked with an organization’s ability to share knowledge and learn.
  • Collaboration can improve team performance through a process of building collective capacity and social capital.

To read the full summary of the literature on collaborating, see our CLA Literature Review. Scroll down to view articles and cases on collaborating.

Collaborating definitions

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