14th, December 2012
Models of Inter-Organizational Collaboration
Collaboration is a process that includes different independent stakeholders who come together and work, building a consensus to produce results. However, reaching a consensus does not necessarily mean that a permanent agreement has been achieved, as there are problems based on ideological differences of the involved stakeholders that may erupt and call for a resolution (Margerum, 2011). Margerum refers to collaboration as not just a process, but as an approach to planning and public policy. People collaborate for different reasons, especially to share knowledge and information and collaboration involves stakeholders, who create the depth of a collaborative approach. Collaboration is a deliberative process, which involves the participation and debating of issues by everyone, including the public, who have a stake in the outcomes too. However, collaboration needs consensus to be reached between the stakeholders and the public. Networks are also vital in collaborations. Reaching a consensus is easy, but translating the consensus into results is the hard part. The networks are responsible for guiding and supporting implementation, as well as supporting the management responses.
Margerum integrates the seven Cs into the collaboration process. First communication, which is sharing of information, is essential. This could be one-way or two-way. However, a two-way communication is most appropriate for collaboration, as it is more interactive. Consultation between government or non-governmental organizations and the people offers a significant exchange of information and gives an opportunity for feedback from the public. In addition, conflict resolution in collaboration begins with communication, which must be effective. Conflict resolution may be formal or informal. Consensus building involves stages that lead to a mutual agreement between the involved parties. Cooperation makes the parties work independently toward one goal. Finally, coordination makes the parties work collectively toward one common goal (Margerum, 2011).
On the other hand, Norris-Tirrell and Clay in their collaboration model, define collaboration as a way of addressing problems affecting the public through the sharing of information and knowledge among different parties to result in positive change. Before getting into collaboration, it is important for the parties to be prepared to work outside the boundaries of their organizations or departments. In addition, Norris-Tirrell and Clay present collaboration as a continuum and argue that collaboration has different uses in the society, but most importantly, helps in meeting community demands, apart from offering solutions to public problems. However, Norris-Tirrell and Clay address strategic collaboration. Its importance includes the adoption and integration of knowledge, ideas, and perspectives of the different set of participants. In addition, it serves to bring participants out of their status quos in order to offer a more diversified platform for them to address the different public problems. Strategic collaboration is beneficial to organizations, as it realizes positive internal changes. However, for a strategic collaboration to be effective, a deliberate intention to collaborate needs to be put in place. Norris-Tirrell and Clay suggest that the leaders of an organization must identify the effects of collaboration, including both negative and positive effects before getting into one. These effects can be short-term or long-term (Norris-Tirrell & Clay, 2010).
These two collaboration models exhibit a level of compatibility. They both address collaboration as a process that involves the collective efforts of different parties to meet a common goal. In addition, these models explain the importance of collaboration to organizations, in the case of effective collaboration. The difference between the two is that while Margerum’s model intensively explores the whole collaboration process, including the parties and the systematic procedures resulting to the collaboration, Norris-Tirrell and Clay use a different approach in the presentation of their approach. While Norris-Terrill and Clay compare organizations that have embraced collaboration, and those that have not embraced collaboration, Margerum does not address organizations without collaboration; instead, he dwells on the collaboration concept alone. Nonetheless, both models are effective in explaining collaboration, and if used appropriately, may result in effective collaboration in organizations.
Inter- organizational networks
The contemporary society is an age of the network, as networks today have replaced hierarchies that existed in the past. Therefore, the contemporary generation is the epitome of information. Networks occur in different forms, and these are essential in management. Networks may occur because of collaborations between different organizations, and bureaucracies. Program specialists, as well as public administrators play an important role in the formation of networks. Goldsmith and Kettl (2009) trace the roots of government networks to the period after the Second World War, when the government collaborated with various organizations to increase the production of various goods and services to meet the national consumption level. During this period, America had experienced an economic boom and there was a rise in consumerism. The government alone could therefore, not afford to cater wholly for the production of goods and services that the American population needed. The government had to call for the intervention of the private sector to help in the production process (Goldsmith & Kettl, 2009)
The difference between inter-organizational networks and private networks lies in their levels of interaction and collaboration with the external parties. Inter-organizational networks have a higher level of interaction and collaboration as compared to the private networks. Unlike the private networks, inter-organizational networks function beyond their organizational boundaries, gathering diverse information from different players in the external environment. The private networks are quite limited in their interaction as they are restricted to interactions and collaborations at the departmental levels only.
According to Agranoff (2007), networks are of great benefits to the public sector. These add a significant value to the public, which would have not been achieved in the absence of these networks. They also help in pooling information and making necessary adjustments across boundaries of organizations, and not departments only. Networks also offer solutions to issues of weak or over-ambitious organizational policies, in the context of dispersed power, face political demands for inclusion and broader influence, and help to address resultant issues in the case of unemployment, education, and job training (Agranoff, 2007). All these issues are often beyond the control and management of single organizations. Networks also change the way managers public managers work. They force the managers to work at the boundaries of the state, with public organizations, as well as the private, non-governmental organizations. They therefore, have minimized the government’s role in management and control of organizations. Networks remain relevant today, even as their relevance and importance grows more in future.
Team Work and Team Building
Dyer, Dyer & Dyer (2010) in their book “Team Building; Proven Strategies for Improving Team,” address the importance of team building in the contemporary corporate world. In addition, they mainly focus on team performance and offer guidance on how poor performing teams can become better performers. This book is important today, and comes in handy for business managers and employees, who comprise teams and team leaders. Therefore, reading this book will help them develop their teams, and work to improve their team performance. In addition, this book pays a closer attention to the teams that perform poorly, and so guidance is given on how these teams can transcend into well performance. The key assumptions of the book mainly revolve on team performance. First, the authors use three Cs to show the determinants of teams that perform exemplarily. These include the context, composition, competencies, and change management skills of the teams.
Dyer, Dyer & Dyer (2010), in their book, also note that today’s teams do not perform to their capabilities. They link poor team performance today to a number of reasons. First, lack of clear objectives and goals may lead to underperformance of teams. Similarly, if a team comprises wrong people, with wrong skills, it will most likely perform lowly. These problems will result in poor decision-making, as well as poor problem solving in the team. Since most companies today embrace teamwork, this rampant underperformance of teams is a major concern to the world economy today. Team building in companies today is a requirement as the company services and produce have become sophisticated today, and require a group of people with different skills to appropriately handle the sales and marketing part, research, production, management, and product development. All these processes are diverse and cannot be handled single-handedly.
The authors in this book have however, overlooked a few aspects of team building, as they have discussed their ideas one-sidedly. By dwelling only on the poor-performing teams, and how they can become better performers, this book has neglects the high-performing teams, and on highlighting how they can sustain their high performance, or even exceed their highest performance. Nonetheless, the high-performing teams can still apply the strategies in this book to strengthen their teams further.
Agranoff, R. (2007). “Managing within networks: Adding value to public organization.”
Georgetown University Press: New Jersey.
Dyer, W. & Dyer, J. (2010). “Team Building; Proven Strategies for Improving Team
Performance.” 4th ed. John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Goldsmith, S. & Kettl, D. (2009) “Unlocking the Power of Networks: Keys to High –
Performance Government.” Brookings Institution Press: New Jersey.
Margerum, R. (2011) “Beyond Consensus: Improving Collaborative Planning and
Management.” The MIT Press: London.
Norris-Tirrell, D. & Clay, J. (2010) “Strategic Collaboration in Public and Non-profit
Administration: A practice-Based Approach to Solving Shared Problems.” CRC Press: New York.
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