Catalan castellers collaborate, working together with a shared goal

Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal.[1] Collaboration is similar to cooperation. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group.[2] Teams that work collaboratively often access greater resources, recognition and rewards when facing competition for finite resources.[3]

Structured methods of collaboration encourage introspection of behavior and communication.[2] Such methods aim to increase the success of teams as they engage in collaborative problem-solving.

Collaboration is present in opposing goals exhibiting the notion of adversarial collaboration, though this is not a common use of the term.

In its applied sense,"(a) collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to accomplish a shared outcome."[4]



The trade of goods is an economic activity providing mutual benefit

Trade is a form of collaboration between two societies that produce different portfolios of goods. Trade began in prehistoric times and continues because it benefits all of its participants. Prehistoric peoples bartered goods and services with each other without a modern currency. Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce from circa 150,000 years ago.[5] Trade exists because different communities have a comparative advantage in the production of tradable goods.

Community organization: Intentional Community

Organization and cooperation between community members provides economic and social benefits

The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political or spiritual vision. They share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include cohousing, residential land trusts, ecovillages, communes, kibbutzim, ashrams, and housing cooperatives. Typically, new members of an intentional community are selected by the community's existing membership, rather than by real estate agents or land owners (if the land is not owned by the community).[6]

Hutterite, Austria (16th century)

In Hutterite communities housing units are built and assigned to individual families, but belong to the colony with little personal property. Meals are taken by the entire colony in a common long room.

Oneida Community,

The Oneida Community practiced Communalism (in the sense of communal property and possessions) and Mutual Criticism, where every member of the community was subject to criticism by committee or the community as a whole, during a general meeting. The goal was to eliminate bad character traits.

Kibbutz (1890)

A Kibbutz is an Israeli collective community. The movement combines socialism and Zionism seeking a form of practical Labor Zionism. Choosing communal life, and inspired by their own ideology, kibbutz members developed a communal mode of living. The kibbutzim lasted for several generations as utopian communities, although most became capitalist enterprises and regular towns.[7]

Indigenous Collaboration

Collaboration in indigenous communities, particularly in the Americas, often involves the entire community working toward a common goal in a horizontal structure with flexible leadership.[8] Children in some indigenous American communities collaborate with the adults. Children can be contributors in the process of meeting objectives by taking on tasks that suit their skills.[9]

Indigenous learning techniques comprise Learning by Observing and Pitching In. For example, a study of Mayan fathers and children with traditional Indigenous ways of learning worked together in collaboration more frequently when building a 3D model puzzle than Mayan fathers with western schooling.[9] Also, Chillihuani people of the Andes value work and create work parties in which members of each household in the community participate.[10] Children from indigenous-heritage communities want to help around the house voluntarily.[11]

In the Mazahua Indigenous community of Mexico, school children show initiative and autonomy by contributing in their classroom, completing activities as a whole, assisting and correcting their teacher during lectures when a mistake is made.[12] Fifth and sixth graders in the community work with the teacher installing a classroom window; the installation becomes a class project in which the students participate in the process alongside the teacher. They all work together without needing leadership, and their movements are all in sync and flowing. It is not a process of instruction, but rather a hands-on experience in which students work together as a synchronous group with the teacher, switching roles and sharing tasks. In these communities, collaboration is emphasized, and learners are trusted to take initiative. While one works, the other watches intently and all are allowed to attempt tasks with the more experienced stepping in to complete more complex parts, while others pay close attention.[13]

Collaboration in the free market

Ayn Rand said that one way people pursue their rational self-interest is by building strong relationships with other people. According to Rand, participants in capitalism are connected through the voluntary division of labor in the free market, where value is exchanged always for value. Rand's theory of rational egoism claims that acting in one's self-interest entails looking out for others in order to protect the innocent from injustice, and to aid friends, allies, and loved ones.[14][non-primary source needed]

Game theory

Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics, computer science, and economics that looks at situations where multiple players make decisions in an attempt to maximize their returns. The first documented discussion of game theory is in a letter written by James Waldegrave, 1st Earl Waldegrave in 1713. Antoine Augustin Cournot's Researches into the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth in 1838 provided the first general theory. In 1928 it became a recognized field when John von Neumann published a series of papers. Von Neumann's work in game theory culminated in the 1944 book The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern.[15]

Military-industrial complex

The term military-industrial complex refers to a close and symbiotic relationship among a nation's armed forces, its private industry, and associated political interests. In such a system, the military is dependent on industry to supply material and other support, while the defense industry depends on government for revenue.

Skunk Works

Skunk Works is a term used in engineering and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with advanced or secret projects. One such group was created at Lockheed in 1943. The team developed highly innovative aircraft in short time frames, notably beating its first deadline by 37 days.[16]

Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was a collaborative project during World War II among the Allies that developed the first atomic bomb . It was a collaborative effort by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

The value of this project as an influence on organized collaboration is attributed to Vannevar Bush. In early 1940, Bush lobbied for the creation of the National Defense Research Committee. Frustrated by previous bureaucratic failures in implementing technology in World War I, Bush sought to organize the scientific power of the United States for greater success.[16]

The project succeeded in developing and detonating three nuclear weapons in 1945: a test detonation of a plutonium implosion bomb on July 16 (the Trinity test) near Alamogordo, New Mexico; an enriched uranium bomb code-named "Little Boy" on August 6 over Hiroshima, Japan; and a second plutonium bomb, code-named "Fat Man" on August 9 over Nagasaki, Japan.

Project management

The 2,751 Liberty ships built in four years by the United States during World War II required new approaches in organization and manufacturing

As a discipline, Project Management developed from different fields including construction, engineering and defense. In the United States, the forefather of project management is Henry Gantt, who is known for his use of the "bar" chart as a project management tool, for being an associate of Frederick Winslow Taylor's theories of scientific management and for his study of the management of Navy ship building. His work is the forerunner to many modern project management tools including the work breakdown structure (WBS) and resource allocation.

The 1950s marked the beginning of the modern project management era. Again, in the United States, prior to the 1950s, projects were managed on an ad hoc basis using mostly Gantt charts, and informal techniques and tools. At that time, two mathematical project scheduling models were developed: (1) the "Program Evaluation and Review Technique" or PERT, developed as part of the United States Navy's (in conjunction with the Lockheed Corporation) Polaris missile submarine program;[17] and (2) the "Critical Path Method" (CPM) developed in a joint venture by both DuPont Corporation and Remington Rand Corporation for managing plant maintenance projects. These mathematical techniques quickly spread into many private enterprises.

In 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed to serve the interest of the project management industry. The premise of PMI is that the tools and techniques of project management are common even among the widespread application of projects from the software industry to the construction industry. In 1981, the PMI Board of Directors authorized the development of what has become A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), standards and guidelines of practice that are widely used throughout the profession. The International Project Management Association (IPMA), founded in Europe in 1967, has undergone a similar development and instituted the IPMA Project Baseline. Both organizations are now participating in the development of a global project management standard.

However, the exorbitant cost overruns and missed deadlines of large-scale infrastructure, military R&D/procurement and utility projects in the US demonstrates that these advances have not been able to overcome the challenges of such projects.[18]


Black Mountain College

Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier and other former faculty of Rollins College, Black Mountain College was experimental by nature and committed to an interdisciplinary approach, attracting a faculty which included leading visual artists, poets and designers.

Operating in a relatively isolated rural location with little budget, Black Mountain fostered an informal and collaborative spirit. Innovations, relationships and unexpected connections formed at Black Mountain had a lasting influence on the postwar American art scene, high culture and eventually pop culture. Buckminster Fuller met student Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain, and the result was the first geodesic dome (improvised out of slats in the school's back yard); Merce Cunningham formed his dance company; and John Cage staged his first happening.

Black Mountain College was a consciously directed liberal arts school that grew out of the progressive education movement. In its day it was a unique educational experiment for the artists and writers who conducted it, and as such an important incubator for the American avant garde.


The Evergreen signature clock tower
Dr. Wolff-Michael Roth and Stuart Lee of the University of Victoria assert[19] that until the early 1990s the individual was the 'unit of instruction' and the focus of research. The two observed that researchers and practitioners switched[20][21] to the idea that "knowing" is better thought of as a cultural practice.[22][23][24][25] Roth and Lee also claim[19] that this led to changes in learning and teaching design in which students were encouraged to share their ways of doing mathematics, history, science, with each other. In other words, that children take part in the construction of consensual domains, and 'participate in the negotiation and institutionalization of … meaning'. In effect, they are participating in learning communities.
This analysis does not consider the appearance of Learning communities in the United States in the early 1980s. For example,

Although relatively rare compared with collaboration in popular music, there have been some notable examples of music written collaboratively by classical composers. Perhaps the best-known examples are: