The following definitions of the Collaboration Continuum are adapted from A.T. Himmelman "Collaboration for a Change", 2002. Used with permission.
Many current collaborations are somewhere along the continuum of collaboration presenting a multitude of opportunities and development for institutions to work together to reach common goals. The following continuum and corresponding definitions are intended to provide a common terminology and to reach agreement with partners on where you want to be on the continuum.
It is important to understand that each of these strategies along the continuum can be appropriate for particular circumstances. It can be sufficient for some institutions to network in order to provide students and their families with correct and updated information on available programs or services. In other circumstances, institutions might work on developing more complex linkages to be able to meet needs more effectively.
These definitions will support appropriate choices about the working relationships to be developed or to strive towards. Keep in mind that these definitions are developmental and therefore, when moving to the next strategy, the capacity within the previous strategy is included within it.
Collaborative efforts are only successful in facilitating change if they are supported from the top down and the bottom up. Administrative support is needed to allow front line staff to make decisions about institutional resources shared in a collaborative effort. Both front line and administrative staff must be open and willing to go beyond "business as usual."
Networking: Exchanging information for mutual benefit. This is easy to do; it requires low initial level of trust, limited time availability and no sharing of turf. Networking is the most informal of the linkages and no mutual sharing of resources is necessary.
Coordinating: Exchanging information and altering activities for mutual benefit to help achieve a common purpose. Coordinated services are "user-friendly" and eliminate or reduce barriers for those seeking access to them. Compared to networking, coordinating creates a more formal relationship but minimal sharing of resources. Coordinating involves more time and higher levels of trust, yet little or no access to each other's turf. Example: The Clinical Coordination Partnership (TCCP)
Cooperating: Exchanging information, altering activities, and sharing resources for mutual benefit to help achieve a common purpose. Increased organizational commitment is required in this more formalized relationship that may involve written agreements and shared resources such as human, financial, and technical contributions. Requires a substantial amount of time, high level of trust, and significant sharing of turf. There is moderate to extensive mutual sharing of resources and some sharing of risks, responsibilities, and rewards. Example: Perkins Consortia
Collaborating: Exchanging information, altering activities, sharing resources, and enhancing each other’s capacity for mutual benefit and to achieve a common goal. The qualitative difference to cooperating is that organizations and individuals are willing to learn from each other in order to become better at what they do. Collaborating means that organizations share risks, responsibilities, and rewards. It requires a substantial time commitment, very high level of trust, and sharing turf. This is a formal relationship with full sharing of resources, and full sharing of risks, responsibilities, and rewards. Example: Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education (MANE)
Integrating/Merging: Completely merging two organizations in regards to client operations as well as administrative structure. Extensive time commitments, very high level of trust, and extensive areas of common turf, up to complete sharing of each other’s turf; enhancing each other’s capacity to achieve a common purpose is the primary focus, merging into a single entity. No longer separate identities, they have merged into a new identity to better serve others. This is a formal relationship and requires extensive legal agreements and changes. Example: Advanced Minnesota
Examples of other collaborative academic planning initiatives in the Minnesota State system were recently evaluated in the following report developed by a Luoma Leadership Academy project team