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Defining Collaboration

Defining collaboration is difficult because of ambiguities in practical usage. For example, the word “collaboration” is commonly interchanged with terms such as “networking,” “cooperation,” and “coordination.” To distinguish collaboration from other terms, Chris Huxham, in Creating Collaborative Advantage (1996), provides definitions of these terms:

  • Networking is exchanging information for mutual benefit.

  • Coordination is exchanging information and altering activities for mutual benefit and to achieve a common purpose.

  • Cooperation is exchanging information, altering activities, and sharing resources for mutual benefit and to achieve a common purpose.

Huxham distinguishes these terms from collaboration:

Collaboration is the exchange of information, the altering of activities, the sharing of resources, and the enhancement of the capacity of another for the mutual benefit of all and to achieve a common purpose.

Three tables that appear later in this bulletin briefly illustrate how Denver victim service agencies moved from networking to collaboration in three areas that became VS2000 project initiatives: an online Resource Directory, an online Case Management System, and the Community Advocacy Program. The tables note the stage in the collaboration continuum at which the agencies became involved in the VS2000 project.

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Making Collaboration Work: The Experiences of
Denver Victim Services 2000
December 2002
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