Sub-theme 20: Collaboration, Coordination, and Cooperation across Organizations: Meaning(s), Types, Contexts, and Determinants

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Xavier Castañer
University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Dries Faems
WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany
Nuno Barros de Oliveira
Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Call for Papers

Organizations work together to attain strategic outcomes (e.g., product innovation, market entry, or social change). The rising socio-economic and ecological complexity of human existence increasingly calls upon organizations to work together through a variety of arrangements, such as multi-partner alliances, cross-sector partnerships and R&D consortia. As Biggart (2016: 1385) notes: “many of the problems that face global societies are organizing problems, problems that deal with systems, interfaces, culture, networks, institutions, and motivations in all their complexity – exactly the issues that need elucidation.”
While collaboration and cooperation are often used as terms to refer to interorganizational arrangements (Cropper et al., 2008), together with coordination, they are most often defined as behavior or practices for successful IORs (Ashkenas, 2005), in which the common goals are achieved. Accordingly, this trilogy of terms has received extensive attention in the literature (Alter, 1990; Oliver, 1990; Parmigiani & Rivera-Santos, 2011).
Conceptual clarity is a precondition for scientific development, along with clear assumptions. Despite recent attempts at clarifying the concepts of collaboration, coordination and coordination (Gulati et al., 2012; Salvato et al., 2017), the field has not yet agreed upon basic aspects of each concept. Recent efforts (Castañer & Oliveira, 2019) exist which might deserve discussion in light of the desired convergence which can bring greater conceptual clarity and research cumulativeness.
We welcome submissions which address the meanings and thus the definitions of these term along with related others such as coopetition, cooptation or integration by means of either literature reviews, empirical research, or conceptual discussions. Typologies usually provide a first step in conceptual clarification (McKelvey, 1978). We welcome conceptual and empirical studies about the challenges and dynamics of collaboration, coordination and cooperation whether in, for instance, R&D alliances (Faems et al., 2007), or marketing channels (Heide, 1994) or cross-sector partnerships (Stadtler & van Wassenhove, 2016).
Several studies have used the term collaboration has evoked distinctive elements of relational commitment or quality (Ariño & de la Torre, 1998) and fair behavior in alliances (Luo, 200). Participation in decision-making and the feeling of inclusiveness (‘being included’) might be a key dimension of collaboration. Further studies that elucidate the meaning of collaboration are desirable.
Suggested questions, but not limited to include:

  • How are and should the terms of collaboration, coordination and cooperation be defined? Does or should it depend on the theory approach? How does it depend on the type of IOR studied and the field context?

  • How do the terms of collaboration, coordination and cooperation in the IOR context relate to other notions such as cooptation, coopetition, control, interaction and integration?

  • How does collaboration (helping behavior) depend on perceptions of procedural and distributive justice?

  • How does the presence of competition affect coordination, cooperation and collaboration?

  • Do the ‘emerging’ forms of IORs such as ecosystems and platforms require new ‘behavior’ concepts other than existing ones such as collaboration, coordination and cooperation?



  • Alter, C. (1990): “An exploratory study of conflict and coordination in interorganizational service delivery systems.” Academy of Management Journal, 33 (3), 478–502.
  • Ariño, A., & de la Torre, J. (1998): “Learning from failure: Towards an evolutionary model of collaborative ventures.” Organization Science, 9 (3), 306–325.
  • Ashkenas, R. (2015): “There is a difference between cooperation and collaboration.” Harvard Business Review, 20, 1–3.
  • Biggart, N. (2016): “Biggart’s lament.” Journal of Management Studies, 53 (8), 1381–1387.
  • Castañer, X., & Oliveira, N. (2019): “Collaboration, coordination and cooperation between organizations.” Working paper.
  • Cropper, S., Ebers, M., Huxham, C., & Ring, P.S. (2008): The Oxford Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Doz, Y.L. (1996): “The evolution of cooperation in strategic alliances: Initial conditions or learning processes?” Strategic Management Journal, 17 (S1), 55–83.
  • Faems, D., Janssens, M., & van Looy, B. (2007): “The initiation and evolution of interfirm knowledge transfer in R&D relationships.” Organization Studies, 28 (11), 1699–1728.
  • Gulati, R., Wohlgezogen, F., & Zhelyazkov, P. (2012): “The two facets of collaboration: Cooperation and coordination in strategic alliances.” Academy of Management Annals, 6, 531–583.
  • Heide, J.B. (1994): “Interorganizational governance in marketing channels.” Journal of Marketing, 58 (1), 71–85.
  • Luo, Y. (2008): “Procedural fairness and interfirm cooperation in strategic alliances.” Strategic Management Journal, 29 (1), 27–46.
  • McKelvey, B. (1978): “Organizational systematics.” Management Science, 24 (13), 1428–1440.
  • Oliver, C. (1990): “Determinants of interorganizational relationships: Integration and future directions.” Academy of Management Review, 1 5(2), 241–265.
  • Parmigiani, A., & Rivera-Santos, M. (2011): “Clearing a path through the forest: A meta-review of interorganizational relationships.” Journal of Management, 37 (4), 1108–1136.
  • Salvato, C., Reuer, J., & Battigalli, P. (2017): “Cooperation across disciplines: A multilevel perspective on cooperative behavior in governing interfirm relations.” Academy of Management Annals, 11, 960–1004.
  • Stadtler, L., & van Wassenhove, L.N. (2016): “Coopetition as a paradox: Integrative approaches in a multi-Company, cross-sector partnership.” Organization Studies, 37 (5), 655–685.
Xavier Castañer is a Professor of Strategy at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. His research on corporate governance, innovation and cross-sectoral alliances’ dynamics has been published in ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Corporate Governance: An International Review’, ‘Journal of Management’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and SMJ, among other journals. Currently, Xavier he is Vice-President for external affairs of the European Academy of Management.
Dries Faems is the Chair of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technological Transformation at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany. His research on collaboration for innovation has been published in top-tier journals such as ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Strategic Management Journal’, ‘Journal of Management’, ‘Organization Studies’, and ‘Research Policy’. Between 2014 and 2018, Dries has been the general editor of the ‘Journal of Management Studies’.
Nuno Barros de Oliveira is an Assistant Professor of Organization Studies at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. His research focuses on main problems of organizing between organizations (e.g., adaptation and coordination) and in devising enhanced research methods to study these problems. Nuno’s research has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Journal of Management’, ‘Journal of Supply Chain Management’, and ‘Organization Science’.
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