The Concept, Principles, And Elements Of Collaboration

Nowadays, collaboration has become one the principal ways of practice in organisations and individuals due to its effectiveness to propose well organised work plans in order to solve complex social problems that plague different communities. But why is this practice is so powerful when a big social problem appears? In this essay, different ideas will be presented about collaboration. It will begin by discussing this concept, continuing with the framework that underpins it; the main elements that make up collaboration, the main constraints and barriers, and finally, the relationship it has with a sustainable development engineer. In this writing two definitions of collaboration were considered.

First we can say that collaboration refers to: “individuals or organizations working together to address problems and deliver outcomes that are not easily or effectively achieved by working alone”. On the other hand, another source defines collaboration as: “a process, an ongoing journey rather than an outcome. It is deliberate activity undertaken with the purpose of improving outcomes for the children and families in the communities in which services are located. ” Both definitions mention important aspects, nevertheless, this essay analyze the first definition because it gives the reader a better picture of what can be expected when the word collaboration is mentioned, thinking about its application in youth work and different sectors as well.

There are basically three forms of joint action commonly known as the 3Cs: cooperation, coordination and collaboration. On the other hand, there are basic points that we can mention to define the three of them, within these we can find trust, interdependence, communication, information and power sharing, and level of risk among others. Nevertheless, each of them perform the points just mentioned in distinct levels; while the first two are in a range of low to medium grades of performance, collaboration accomplishes these characteristics more deeply than the others. Interdependence, risk and rewards, and commitment and contribution increase when a collaborative relationship is implemented.

The elements and characteristics that guide a favorable collaboration may vary depending on the source. Different authors classify them with different names, however all of them seek to enforce these points in order to carry out a successful collaborative relationship. For this essay, three sources were reviewed. Stokes (1995) establishes eight guiding principles for the process of collaboration, proposed by the national and International literature and by the youth and Inter-Agency Project. On the other hand, McDonald (2011) highlights social inclusion, and how the four key domains of opportunity that define it can be improved through the services provided to children and families. Finally, ARACY (2013) mentions that there are six key elements and four aspects of collaboration that need to be considered, which are listed below.

From the key elements and aspects for a successful collaboration that were mentioned above, there are some points worth mentioning that will give us an idea as to why they are presented as important elements. When we talk about collaboration, we can infer that there will be interaction between people or work groups that, if the agreement to collaborate were stablished at the beginning, is because they seek a common goal. That is, they depend on each other (interdependent). In order to achieve that common goals, there must be effective team work in which every member (or agency) plays an important and different role. Trust and communication are must-points to work collaboratively, because it helps to clarify and discuss those objectives and responsibilities, contributing also to the understanding of the problem in order to propose solid outcomes. Likewise, in all team work, there must be commitment, responsibility and respect, which are important aspects through the whole process, particularly if the relational time frame is long term. Due to problems that may appear, sometimes it is necessary to move across disciplines, since other agencies or members can see the problem from another angle and can share tactical information to figure it out. Seeing things like that can help lead to agreement in the redistribution of power to a more collaborative view. Even though these points seem to be basic, they are key to achieve a successful collaboration. As well as cooperation and coordination have certain barriers and limitations, collaboration can also have them. We have to remark that a collaborative relationship is not easy; problems at the beginning (formation) or during the inter-organisational work process may appear. If we examine barriers and limitations from literature and ARACY, we can observe that they touch some important points that slow down collaboration. One of the points that worth mentioning is the ability to work for common goals. If one individual or agency do not share the same insight this would stop the plan established at the beginning. Leadership is another point to highlight. The kind of leadership that is sought is the one that facilitate collaboration, that is making the appropriate connections between agencies and ensure participation of these. If a leader only focuses on their own interests, the necessary connections will not be developed to carry out a solid project in which the strengths of those involved stand out. This last obviously affect people related to the project (young people, children, etc). In light of all the above, it can be said that collaboration is a very powerful tool that can be implemented in different fields in order to deal with complex issues regarding present-day society.

My profession aims to improve the efficient use of natural and energy resources based on sustainability principles. ¨Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Therefore, if a complex problem wants to be addressed based of sustainable development principles, social, economic and environmental aspects must be considered in order to propose an effective response. Synergy between the different sectors involved also has to be sought due to the multiple layers in the issue, that is, interdependence is necessary. So, we can state that the principles of collaborative relationships are also required when the sustainable development basis are intended to be used.

10 October 2020
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