Difference Between Collaboration & Cooperation

Collaboration and cooperation are terms in the English language that have very similar meanings, but they are not synonymous. There are some subtle differences between the two words that will be discussed in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Collaboration is similar to cooperation but takes it to a higher level with active participation of all the members in collaboration.
  • Cooperation is a process of working in unison to achieve an objective, rather than working independently or competing with each other.
  • Collaboration is more formal and involves a shared strategy, while cooperation is more informal and characterized by pooling resources and doing one’s bit for a shared cause.

Collaboration is working together to solve a problem or achieve a goal. It takes place between individuals, organizations, or even governments to tackle shared goals and objectives. Sharing knowledge, expertise, and manual labor may be required in any collaborative venture or endeavor. If a team of scientists is working on a project such as the one that took place at CERN to understand how our universe came into being, we term it as a collaborative endeavor. When two countries decide to partner to achieve a shared goal such as fighting terrorism, it is indeed collaboration. Interpol, the international policing organization, is one such organization that exists and operates because of the collaboration of the member countries.

Cooperation refers to a process of working in unison to achieve an objective, rather than working independently or competing with each other. We all know about cooperatives where people pool together resources to have a working system. At the social level, a family is the smallest yet most powerful example of cooperation where a man and a woman come together to live with each other and share the workload to start the family. The roles and duties get divided between the man and the woman, and they perform their tasks with the active cooperation of the other. Though times have changed and so have the perceptions of the roles of a man and a woman in a family, there was a time when the man was supposed to look after the material needs and the woman look after the household chores such as cooking and feeding the children.

Without cooperation, it is hard to imagine the world surviving, as nations today are dependent upon each other for most of their resource requirements. We see how the countries of the world cooperate with each other whenever there is an epidemic or endemic, or when there is a calamity or natural disaster striking at one place.

The difference between collaboration and cooperation lies in the level of participation and formality. Collaboration involves active participation from all members and a shared strategy, while cooperation is characterized by pooling resources and doing one’s bit for a shared cause. Cooperation is the opposite of standing alone or competing, but collaboration is active participation in a shared endeavor. Collaboration has a more formal approach than cooperation. In a family, the roles of a man and a woman are clearly defined, and they cooperate with each other to raise a family without any written rules and regulations. This is a classic example of cooperation. Collaboration is said to be taking place when scientists of many countries come together to find the cure for an endemic. Law enforcing authorities of several countries coming together to catch a terrorist is another example of collaboration.

Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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