Interorganizational Collaboration: Complexity, Ethics, and Communication by Renee Guarriello Heath, Matthew G. Isbell
350 pages, $39.95 list
eBook availability
Interorganizational Collaboration
Complexity, Ethics, and Communication
Interorganizational Collaboration: Complexity, Ethics, and Communication centers around three key assertions: (1) interorganizational collaboration is complex and warrants study as a specific type of leadership and communication; (2) successful collaborative relationships are grounded in a principled ethic of democratic and egalitarian participation; and (3) interorganizational collaboration requires a specific communication language of practice. Interorganizational collaboration is influenced by increased interconnectedness, shifting organizational needs, and a changing workforce. Collaboration invokes ethical questions and ethical responsibilities that must be considered in communication practices and structures.

Although there are many popular books and practitioner materials on collaboration, most are not focused on introducing foundational concepts to a novice audience. In addition, the subject of communication in collaboration has been somewhat underdeveloped. The authors focus on communication from a social constructionist stance. One of their primary goals is to develop a collaboration pedagogy based on existing communication scholarship. The authors present communicative practices vital to interorganizational participation, and they view collaboration as something beyond an exchange of resources and knowledge. Unlike group and organizational texts that approach collaboration from a functional or strategic perspective, this text anchors collaboration in the assumption that democratic and principled communication will foster creative and accountable outcomes for participants in collaborative problem solving. The authors articulate a collaborative ethic useful in all communicative contexts. Micropractices of communication are fundamental not only to collaborating across organizations but also to fostering just and trusting relationships.

The book discusses the cornerstone assumptions and principled practices necessary for stakeholders to address problems—for example, recognizing and validating the needs of fellow stakeholders; separating people’s positions from underlying interests; listening for things that are never quite said; identifying overlapping commonalities; building trust while respecting difference; and constructively navigating conflict. The book also focuses on building collaborative praxis based on the assumption of contingency. Praxis cultivates knowledge and ethical understanding of a situation so participants in collaborations can make the best decision based on specific circumstances.

National Communication Association Organizational Division’s 2017 Textbook of the Year!
“Fantastic book! The only of its kind that develops theory and applies it to practice in a rigorous manner.” — Natalie Nelson-Marsh, University of Portland
Table of Contents
Part I: The Complexity of Collaboration

1. Introducing Complexity
Why Interorganizational Collaboration? / Changing Organizational Curricula with the Times

2. Interorganizational Collaboration
Cooperation, Coordination, and Collaboration / Building a Collaborative Scaffold / Measuring Success

3. Stakeholders
The Ethical Turn to “Who?” / Stakeholders in Interorganizational Collaboration / Identity and Stakeholders / Interdependence and Need

Part II: A Collaborative Ethic

4. Ethical Contexts
Collaboration as the Ethical Response to Social Corporate Responsibility / The Macro and Micro Contexts of Ethics / Pragmatic Reasons to Practice Ethical Communication / Micro and Macrocontext Tensions

5. Diversity
Diversity’s Central Role in Collaboration / Rethinking Diversity as Dependent on the Communication Situation / The Benefits of Diversity / Challenges of Diversity

6. (Shared) Power
Hierarchy and Power Structures / Power is Relational and Constructed with Others / Power Types in Interorganizational Collaboration / Power and Democracy in Collaboration / Sharing Power in the Collaborative Group

7. Principled Leadership
Leadership and Collaborative Culture / Participative Leadership and Collaboration

Part III: Language of Collaborative Praxis

8. Communication Oriented Toward Dialogue
Language / Distinguishing Dialogue from Debate / “I Get It” / Collaborative Praxis

9. Communication Oriented Toward Interests
Positions versus Interests / Collaborative Praxis / Principled Negotiation in Collaboration

10. Communication Oriented Toward Conflict
Conflict in Collaboration / Native Communication Expounded / Collaborative Praxis

11. Communication Oriented toward Consensus
Consensus and Collaboration / Collaborative Praxis

12. Communication Oriented toward Solutions
The Problem with Short Cutting to Solutions / Appreciative Inquiry / Collaborative Praxis / From Solutions to Action

Part IV: Wicked Problems Revisited: Applied Collaboration

13. Educational and Economic Partnership: Community Reach (Katherine R. Cooper)

14. Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim Initiative (Catherine Craig and Niñon Lewis)

15. One Community’s Effort to Address Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice (Susan Lebold)

16. Environmental Community Development in West Virginia (Carrie Staton)

17. Substance Abuse Taskforce (Michael W. Kramer, Carrisa S. Hoelscher, Eric Anthony Day, Christopher Nguyen, and Olivia D. Cooper)

18. Collaboration among Bike/Walk Advocates (Lori L. Britt and Leanna Smithberger)

19. Going Forward