Article | Academy of Management Annals | 2012

The Two Facets of Collaboration: Cooperation and Coordination in Strategic Alliances

by Ranjay Gulati, Franz Wohlgezogen and Pavel Zhelyazkov


This paper unpacks two underspecified facets of collaboration: cooperation and coordination. Prior research has emphasized cooperation, and specifically the partners' commitment and alignment of interests, as the key determinant of collaborative success. Scholars have paid less attention to the critical role of coordination—the effective alignment and adjustment of the partners' actions. To redress this imbalance, we conceptually disentangle cooperation and coordination in the context of inter-organizational collaboration, and examine how the two phenomena play out in the partner selection, design, and post-formation stages of an alliance's life cycle. As we demonstrate, a coordination perspective helps resolve some empirical puzzles, but it also represents a challenge to received wisdom grounded in the salience of cooperation. To stimulate future research, we discuss alternative conceptualizations of the relationship between cooperation and coordination, and elaborate on their normative implications.

Keywords: Alliances; Social and Collaborative Networks; Cooperation;


Gulati, Ranjay, Franz Wohlgezogen, and Pavel Zhelyazkov. "The Two Facets of Collaboration: Cooperation and Coordination in Strategic Alliances." Academy of Management Annals 6 (2012): 531–583.