June 12, 1989
Today’s public, private, and nonprofit organizations share the challenge of solving some tough and complex problems ranging from local conflicts over urban development to international negotiations on protecting the ozone layer. Too often, however, genuine and well-intentioned efforts to address these problems are blocked. Propose solutions are dismissed as financially or technologically infeasible, and the parties involved often become polarized, hopelessly deadlocked in political battles or stuck in protracted legal wranglings.
In this new book, Barbara Gray presents an innovative approach to confronting and overcoming these impasses. Drawing on her extensive experience as a consultant and researcher, she describes how collaboration – a method for solving shared problems in resolving conflicts – can be used in order to help organizations join forces, pool information, and reach a mutually-satisfying long-term agreements. She explains why this approach is critical as organizations become increasingly interdependent and experience rapid change both internally and externally.
Gray provides a wealth of case studies to demonstrate how collaboration can be successfully applied to solve problems of wide-ranging scope and complexity. She outlines the key steps for undertaking a successful collaborative effort – exploring how to get parties together in order to define the problem, establish an agenda, and implement a solution. And she illustrates how the steps have been put into action and a variety of settings to arrive at lasting solutions. Grey also examine such issues as when not to collaborate, how to ensure compliance with agreements, and how to determine the mediator’s role, which includes how the mediator contributes to successful collaboration.
Barbara Gray is associate professor of organizational behavior and associate director of the Centre for Research in Conflict and Negotiation, Pennsylvania State University.