What is collaboration?
Collaboration generally refers to individuals or organisations 'working together' to address problems and deliver outcomes that are not easily or effectively achieved by working alone. Collaborative practice is now central to the way we work, deliver services and produce innovations. Collaborative relationships are attractive to organisations becuase the combination of effort and expertise produces benefits greater than those achieved working alone.
What is collaborative practice?
Collaborative practice involves community service organisations working together to achieve shared goals.
In the community services delivery system, collaboration is achieved when organisations develop mechanisms - structures, processes and skills - for bridging organisational and interpersonal differences, and together arrive at outcomes that they value.
Community service organisations generally collaborate to:
- improve the quality or scope of service to their clients, and/or
- provide administrative or service delivery efficiencies.
A continuum of collaborative practice
Collaborative practice can be seen as a continuum of relationships. The relationships formed between organisations can vary in terms of the formality of arrangements and how activities or functions are shared or integrated. Arrangements can range from informal agreements for information sharing, such as inter-agency or other network meetings, through to amalgamations and mergers, where a formal process fully integrates two organisations into a single operation.
Relationships may also differ in terms of:
- length of relationship (one-off activity, time limited or ongoing)
- degree of risk and commitment
- type of outcomes sought, and
- level of organisational autonomy retained.