Contingent Cooperation

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Definition

Definition by Christopher Wilson at http://christopherwilson108.blogspot.com

Contingent Cooperation = refers to the "the ability of diverse, local stakeholders to effectively work together even if they do not normally interact", but whereby such cooperation is conditional on that of others:

Contingent cooperations "are willing to contribute as long as others do as well. They do not participate out of coercion or out of some sense of altruism. Their voluntary participation is wholly practical, based on the assumption that the participation of others will benefit them more than the cost of their contribution. Typically, organizations will continue to participate in a partnership only so long as the costs of participation are outweighed by the contributions by other organizations." ((http://christopherwilson108.blogspot.com/2006/09/recognizing-contingent-co-operation.html))


Commentary on collaboraton and contingent cooperation

Christopher Wilson:

"My experience also suggests that there are three stages of collaboration, each having its own requirements that need to be addressed in order for the partnership to succeed. The first is the rationale for cooperation that involves getting people to the table with a willingness and openness to at least to try to work with others. This is usually driven by a strong belief among potential partners that they can not achieve their goals alone. This is the stage that most people ‘get’. The third stage involves a period of self referral and reflection on the part of the partners that includes celebrating their success, collecting the organizational memory (lessons learned, best practice, etc.) of the partnership, and reassessing any future role for the partnership and other opportunities for the partners. This post partnership reflection is rarely attended to effectively because most collaborative initiatives are time limited hence there is little incentive to capture the social and intellectual capital generated from a partnership for future use.

The second stage is the working stage of the partnership that begins by building trust, continues through a period of social learning and joint decision making, and finally on to the undertaking of joint action. These steps are well recognized.

However, what is often overlooked and not well recognized, is that participating partners are usually ‘contingent co-operators’, that is, they are willing to contribute as long as others do as well. They do not participate out of coercion or out of some sense of altruism. Their voluntary participation is wholly practical, based on the assumption that the participation of others will benefit them more than the cost of their contribution. Typically, organizations will continue to participate in a partnership only so long as the costs of participation are outweighed by the contributions by other organizations. For instance, one local economic development officer commented to me that, “I would not have taken on the leadership of a project taskforce without knowing that other community leaders were doing similar tasks in other areas which would also benefit us" The consequence of ‘contingent cooperation’ being prevalent among collaborating partners underscores a strong need for transparency and monitoring so that everyone can be reassured about the levels of cooperation and commitment of their partners." (http://christopherwilson108.blogspot.com/2006/09/recognizing-contingent-co-operation.html)

This point about monitoring is underscored by Rheingold (2002).

More Information

Contingent cooperation is the object of continuing research by Christopher Wilson at http://christopherwilson108.blogspot.com .

See the blog entry on Recognizing Contingent Cooperation

See also Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs

Research

See Robust Evolution of Contingent Cooperation