Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is similar to cooperation. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. Teams that work collaboratively often access greater resources, recognition and rewards when facing competition for finite resources.
Structured methods of collaboration encourage introspection of behavior and communication. Such methods aim to increase the success of teams as they engage in collaborative problem-solving.
Collaboration is present in opposing goals exhibiting the notion of adversarial collaboration, though this is not a common use of the term.
In its applied sense," collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to accomplish a shared outcome."



Trade is a form of collaboration between two societies that produce different portfolios of goods. Trade began in prehistoric times and continues because it benefits all of its participants. Prehistoric peoples bartered goods and services with each other without a modern currency. Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce from circa 150,000 years ago. Trade exists because different communities have a comparative advantage in the production of tradable goods.

Community organization: Intentional Community

The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political or spiritual vision. They 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.

Hutterite, Austria (founded 16th century)

In Hutterite communities housing units are built and assigned to individual families, but belong to the colony with 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 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 remove bad character traits.

Kibbutz (1890)

A Kibbutz is an Israeli collective community. The movement combines socialism and Zionism seeking a form of practical Labor Zionism. Choosing communal life, and inspired by their own ideology, kibbutz members developed a communal mode of living. The kibbutzim lasted for several generations as utopian communities, although most became capitalist enterprises and regular towns.

Indigenous Collaboration

Collaboration in indigenous communities, particularly in the Americas, often involves the entire community working toward a common goal in a horizontal structure with flexible leadership. Children in some indigenous American communities collaborate with the adults. Children can be contributors in the process of meeting objectives by taking on tasks that suit their skills.
Indigenous learning techniques comprise Learning by Observing and Pitching In. For example, a study of Mayan fathers and children with traditional Indigenous ways of learning worked together in collaboration more frequently when building a 3D model puzzle than Mayan fathers with western schooling. Also, Chillihuani people of the Andes value work and create work parties in which members of each household in the community participate. Children from indigenous-heritage communities want to help around the house voluntarily.
In the Mazahua Indigenous community of Mexico, school children show initiative and autonomy by contributing in their classroom, completing activities as a whole, assisting and correcting their teacher during lectures when a mistake is made. Fifth and sixth graders in the community work with the teacher installing a classroom window; the installation becomes a class project in which the students participate in the process alongside the teacher. They all work together without needing leadership, and their movements are all in sync and flowing. It is not a process of instruction, but rather a hands-on experience in which students work together as a synchronous group with the teacher, switching roles and sharing tasks. In these communities, collaboration is emphasized, and learners are trusted to take initiative. While one works, the other watches intently and all are allowed to attempt tasks with the more experienced stepping in to complete more complex parts, while others pay close attention.

Collaboration in the free market

said that one way people pursue their rational self-interest is by building strong relationships with other people. According to Rand, participants in capitalism are connected through the voluntary division of labor in the free market, where value is exchanged always for value. Rand's theory of rational egoism claims that acting in one's self-interest entails looking out for others in order to protect the innocent from injustice, and to aid friends, allies, and loved ones.

Game theory

is a branch of applied mathematics, computer science, and economics that looks at situations where multiple players make decisions in an attempt to maximize their returns. The first documented discussion of game theory is in 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. In 1928 it became a recognized 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.

Military-industrial complex

The term military-industrial complex refers to a close and symbiotic relationship among a nation's armed forces, its private industry, and associated political 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

is a term used in engineering and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with advanced or secret projects. One such group was created at Lockheed in 1943. The team developed highly innovative aircraft in short time frames, notably beating its first deadline by 37 days.

Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was a collaborative project during World War II among the Allies that developed the first atomic bomb. It was a collaborative effort by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
The value of this project as an influence on organized collaboration is 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 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.

Project management

As a discipline, Project Management developed from different fields including construction, engineering and defense. In the United States, the forefather of project management is Henry Gantt, who is 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 management of Navy ship building. His work is the forerunner to many modern project management tools including the work breakdown structure 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: the "Program Evaluation and Review Technique" or PERT, developed as part of the United States Navy's Polaris missile submarine program; and the "Critical Path Method" 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 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, standards and guidelines of practice that are widely used throughout the profession. The International Project Management Association, 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.
However, the exorbitant cost overruns and missed deadlines of large-scale infrastructure, military R&D/procurement and utility projects in the US demonstrates that these advances have not been able to overcome the challenges of such projects.


Black Mountain College

Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier and other former faculty of Rollins College, Black Mountain College was experimental by nature and committed to an interdisciplinary approach, attracting a faculty which included leading visual artists, poets and designers.
Operating in a relatively isolated rural location with little budget, Black Mountain fostered an informal and collaborative spirit. Innovations, relationships and unexpected connections formed at Black Mountain had 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 ; Merce Cunningham formed his dance company; and John Cage staged his first happening.
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.


Classical music

Although relatively rare compared with collaboration in popular music, there have been some notable examples of music written collaboratively by classical composers. Perhaps the best-known examples are:


Figurative arts

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 widely questioned until the 1960s and 1970s.
Collaborative art groups
is a collaborative art form. Ballet entails music, dancers, 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, 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.


Musical collaboration occurs when musicians in different places or groups work on the piece. Typically, multiple parties are involved and come together to create one work. For example, one specific collaboration from recent times was the song "FourFiveSeconds". This single represents a type of collaboration because it was developed by pop idol Rihanna, Paul McCartney, and rapper/composer Kanye West. Websites and software facilitate musical collaboration over the Internet, resulting in the emergence of Online Bands.
Several awards exist specifically for collaboration in music:
Collaboration has been a constant feature of Electroacoustic Music, due to the technology's complexity. Embedding technological tools into the process stimulated the emergence of new agents with new expertise: the musical assistant, the technician, the computer music designer, the music mediator – aiding with writing, creating new instruments, recording and/or performance. The musical assistant explains developments in musical research and translates artistic ideas into programming languages. Finally, he or she transforms those ideas into a score or a computer program and often performs the musical piece during the concerts. Examples of collaboration include Pierre Boulez and Andrew Gerzso, Alvise Vidolin and Luigi Nono, Jonathan Harvey and Gilbert Nouno, among others.


Collaboration in entertainment dates from the origin of theatrical productions, millennia ago. It takes the form of writers, directors, actors, producers and other individuals or groups work on the same production. In the twenty-first century, new technology has enhanced collaboration. A system developed by Will Wright for the TV series title Bar Karma on CurrentTV facilitates plot collaboration over the Internet. Screenwriter organizations bring together professional and amateur writers and filmmakers.


Collaboration in business can be found both within and across organizations and ranges from partnership and crowd funding to the complexity of a multinational corporation. Inter-organizational collaboration brings participating parties to invest resources, mutually achieve goals, share information, resources, rewards and responsibilities, as well as make joint 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 boundary-spanning teams and networks than by formal organizational structures. Collaboration allows for better communication within the organization and along 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 has been shown to positively impact firm performance and innovation outcomes.
Technology has provided the internet, wireless connectivity and collaboration tools such as blogs and wikis, and has as such created the possibility of "mass collaboration". People are able to rapidly communicate and share ideas, crossing longstanding geographical and cultural boundaries. Social networks permeate business culture where collaborative uses include file sharing and knowledge transfer. According to author Evan Rosen command-and-control organizational structures inhibit collaboration and replacing such structures allows collaboration to flourish.
Studies have found that collaboration can increase achievement and productivity. However, a four-year study of interorganizational collaboration found that successful collaboration can be rapidly derailed through external policy steering, particularly where it undermines relations built on trust. Collaboration is also threatened by opportunism from the business partners and the possibility of coordination failures that can derail the efforts of even well-intentioned parties.
Coworking spaces are businesses that provide space for freelancers to work with others in a collaborative environment.


In recent years, co-teaching has become more common, found in US classrooms across all grade levels and content areas. Once regarded as connecting 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 American classrooms have become increasingly diverse, so have the challenges for educators. Due to the diverse needs of students with designated special needs, English language learners, and students of varied academic levels, teachers have developed new approaches that provide additional student support. In practice, students remain in the classroom and receive instruction by both their general teacher and special education teachers.
In the 1996 report "What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future" economic success could be enhanced if students developed the capacity to learn how to “manage teams… and…work together successfully in teams”.
Teachers increasingly use collaborative software to establish virtual learning environments. This allows them to share learning materials and feedback with both students and in some cases, parents. Approaches include:
Collaboration in publishing can be as simple as dual-authorship or as complex as commons-based peer production. Tools include Usenet, e-mail lists, blogs and Wikis while 'brick and mortar' examples include monographs and periodicals such as newspapers, journals and magazines. One approach is for an author to publish early drafts/chapters of a work on the Internet and solicit suggestions from the world at large. This approach helped ensure that the technical aspects of the novel The Martian were as accurate as possible.


Scientific collaboration rapidly advanced throughout the twentieth century as measured by the increasing numbers of coauthors on 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. Notable examples of scientific collaboration include CERN, the International Space Station, the ITER nuclear fusion experiment, and the European Union's Human Brain Project.


While nurses have long collaborated with doctors, the physician assistant - physician relationship is more recent. A collaborative plan is filed with each state board of medicine where the PA works. This plan formally delineates the scope of practice approved by the physician.


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. Many large companies adopt collaboration platforms to allow employees, customers and partners to intelligently connect and interact.
Enterprise collaboration tools focus on encouraging 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, but the term can encompass IP telephony, instant messaging, and rich video interaction with telepresence, as well.
The effectiveness of a collaborative effort is driven by three critical factors:
The Internet's low cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills has made collaborative work dramatically easier. Not only can a group cheaply communicate, but the wide reach of the Internet allows groups to easily form, particularly among dispersed, niche participants. 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

Commons-based peer production

is a term coined by Yale Law professor Yochai Benkler to describe a new model of economic production in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated into large, meaningful projects, mostly without hierarchical organization or financial compensation. He compares this to firm production and market-based production.
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, a software solution 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.