Factors that Help and Hinder Collaboration

Partnering with other organizations to fulfill an organizational or community need involves a degree of collaboration that the parties may have not previously undertaken. Collaboration with other organizations may be desirable from several perspectives such as a desire to engage other resources to fulfill a need or the fact that a funding sponsor may only make one award requiring the lead organization to issue sub grants to others to achieve project goals. Regardless of the situation organizations willing to work together must have mutual interests and compatibilities as well as benefiting from the relationship. The list that follows highlights factors that help and hinder collaboration. When exploring partnerships with other organizations it is a helpful list to keep in mind.

Factors That Help Collaboration

An external catalyst

A receptive political environment

Recognition of a common client

The identification of common benefits

Strong leadership for the collaboration effort

The identification of key players who share beliefs, characteristics, and a commitment to the process

An openness to problem solving

Open communication flow

Team building

Assessments of team effectiveness


Common vision

A defined structure

Acknowledgement of the contribution of individual members

Receptive agency culture

Interpersonal trust between members

Commitment of proactive long range planning

Mutual needs and interests



Broad-based representation

Attention to group process

Equality among partners


Factors That Hinder Collaboration

Threat to autonomy

Professional staff fears

Client representatives

Disagreement among resource providers

Multiple local governments and many private and public organizations

Lack of "domain consensus"

Different expectations from federal, state and local levels

Coordination is a low priority

Costs and benefits are uncertain

Resources are not available


Belinda Biscoe, Ph.D., College of Continuing Education, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK