1. What is inter-organisational collaboration?
An inter-organisational collaboration is the process of achieving certain tasks or goals occurring between or involving two or more legally independent organizations, without creating a new organisation form. The goal of this collaboration can be manifold: from research over innovation to development, marketing and sales or the increasing field of inter-organisational (sharing) eco-systems (e.g., sharing machines or other infrastructure) or platform economies. We will in the following focus on inter-organisational collaboration in the innovation process.
Inter-organisational collaboration is a multilevel process which takes place at various system levels:
- on an individual and interindividual level among individuals, usually with different knowledge and experiences
- those individuals act as representatives of their respective organizations with their own organizational interests: the intra-organizational and interorganizational level
- they build up a temporary group (group level)
- the participating organizations are and remain independent, but remain interdependent with respect to a particular problem domain
All this in embedded in a larger context that influences the interorganizational system and is influenced by it.
Such collaboration can be e.g., between different companies, companies and individuals, public private partnerships, collaborations between companies and academia or non-academic research centers and a vast variety of mixed forms.
Collaborations range from close partnerships in which employees throughout the organizations work interdependently for a longer period of time and deal with “important” or mission-critical projects which create shared intellectual property rights to low-level cooperation, involving e.g., just the sharing of information, in which the innovation itself remains on a relatively independent and individual level.