HomeVolume 7July 2022Collaboration and cooperation

Collaboration and cooperation

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Collaboration and cooperation

DR. ICHAK ADIZES is an expert in change management for organizations. Here he shares some thoughts on the twin qualities of collaboration and cooperation, and how they are needed at different stages in the processes of any organization. 

Are collaboration and cooperation the same thing? Are they synonymous words? I believe they are different, and the differences can be seen by looking at the Adizes map of managing change1.

What is “collaboration”? Collaboration is what a complementary team does. The team members work together, learning from each other, cross-pollinating. For collaboration to occur, mutual respect is necessary. And what is “respect”? To rephrase Emanuel Kant, “respect” means to recognize the sovereignty of the other person to think differently. Once respect exists, the condition for learning from each other is established. At that point, if the parties have something to contribute to each other, collaboration might happen.

Notice that I say, “might happen,” because for collaboration to be achieved, respect and resourcefulness are necessary conditions, but they are not sufficient. A positive, supportive climate is also necessary for learning and cross-pollination to occur. For that, a prescribed, structured, systemic process of deliberation is required. It should ensure that a positive climate for the dynamics of the collaboration can take place.

Cooperation is a totally different thing. Cooperation is located on the right side of the Adizes map. Its focus is not on decision-making, for which collaboration is necessary, but on implementation of the decisions made. To implement a decision that involves change, a commonality of interests among all the parties involved is a must. Cooperation will occur when there is a common interest, or when a common interest is perceived to exist in the long run, which requires both faith and trust.

As we can see, for collaboration, respect is called for. For cooperation, trust is called for. Trust and respect, collaboration and cooperation, are necessary for managing change without destructive conflict, that is, for making effective decisions and implementing them efficiently.

Just thinking and feeling,
Dr. IchakKalderonAdizes


1Adizes, I.K., 2016. Mastering Change. Adizes Institute Publications.

Dr. Ichak Adizes

Dr. Ichak Adizes is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading management experts. He has received 21 honorary doctorates and is the author of 27 books that have been translated into 36 languages. Dr. Adizes is recognized by Leadership Excellence Journal as one of the top thirty thought leaders of America.


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