Thursday, January 15, 2009

What do we mean by collaboration?

A friend of mine who I am writing a book with asked a question about collaboration. What I learned from working with my Maori colleagues is that collaboration is often misunderstood, particularly in cross-cultural contexts. For Maori collaboration would involve building non-dominating relationships between self-determining individuals. Then out of that relationship building would come an agenda for working together.
In America collaboration is often agenda driven. An individual has an agenda they want to accomplish and invites others to join in. However, this individual remains the dominant person in the relationship. The agenda determines the roles people have, rather than the relationships among people determining the agenda.
Living with Maori over an extended time has caused me to re-think my views about collaboration. And I wonder if perhaps a different word would be more appropriate for what we usually call collaboration in American - particularly since the meaning is lost cross-culturally.

No comments:

Post a Comment