The Center for the Study of Collaboration in Work and Society develops the understanding of effective collaboration, both as theory and as practice. 

Collaborative projects bring together people with diverse skills and perspectives to pursue common purposes deliberately and cooperatively, engaging the widest possible range of capacities. Examples include (among others) autonomous teams and task forces in industry; stakeholder forums around issues of social responsibility; labor-management partnerships; and inter- professional groups in health care and education.

Collaboration contrasts with three other mindsets and ways of organizing: bureaucratic  approaches relying on top-down rational planning and expert knowledge; market approaches maximizing decentralized autonomy; and traditionalist approaches seeking to maintain stable and established values and relations. 

Of the four, collaboration is the least well-understood, and it is very hard to implement. But it may be best for solving the kind of complex and ill-structured problems that increasingly challenge modern society. It is particularly good at getting the full value from diverse kinds of knowledge, and at engaging maximum commitment from participants.


Currently the Center is responsible for the following programs:

  • Designing Collaborative Ecosystems - September 12-15, 2017
    During the Sociotechnical Systems Roundtable Inc. (STS) 2017 Annual Roundtable, "Designing Collaborative Ecosystems," attendees explored the practice of building collaborative ecosystems in the healthcare sector as well as in other fields to broaden the understanding of collaborative ecosystems' general principles and methods. This event was organized in collaboration with Rutgers SMLR's Center for Work and Health.
  • The Program on Collaborative School Reform has conducted research in several school districts throughout the United States. This work has linked student achievement outcomes to  labor management partnerships at the district and school levels as well as teacher collaboration  within and between schools. 
  • The Program on Collaborative Health Care Delivery has conducted research in a set of New Jersey hospitals and has documented improved performance in units with strong cross-disciplinary teams.