Many societal challenges defy simple solutions within the grasp of one academic discipline, a single type of organization, or a country acting alone. Such "wicked problems" require collaboration that crosses social, political, or geographic boundaries. Collaboration across boundaries is increasingly seen as a necessary way forward, whether for the cases of education, health care, community policing, or international trade. At the same time, collaboration poses its own challenges, and what is more, so too does crossing boundaries. Regardless of the skill set required to achieve a particular goal, collaboration and crossing boundaries make their own demands.
Crossing Boundaries for Collaboration brings together multiple bodies of work on collaboration across different kinds of boundaries. It highlights the promise of "collaborative advantage", while featuring detailed discussions of the challenges involved. It provides a framework for thinking about collaboration in terms of a suite of issues, each with particular tasks and challenges that can be addressed via strategic practices. This book also features an extensive discussion of the importance of boundaries for collaboration, which recognizes that while crossing boundaries complicates collaboration, spanning divides can also magnify collaborative advantage.
To illustrate the joys and travails of collaboration across boundaries, this book takes up the case of conservation and development in the Amazon. Well-known for its biological resources, the basin is changing rapidly, and Amazonian societies increasingly demand inclusive approaches to conservation and development. This book draws on firsthand experiences from direct participation in several complicated conservation and development projects that spanned disciplinary, organizational, and national boundaries. While the projects permitted achievement of goals beyond the reach of individual partners, the challenges along the way were daunting.
This book focuses on issues of particular salience when collaborating across boundaries: politics and inequality, uncertainty and surprise, and collaboration and the self. It also underscores the strategic importance of investing in collaborative practice and the experience of crossing boundaries, even if an initial effort fails. In light of growing need to address complex problems, this book provides a clarion call to collaborate across boundaries, recognizing the difficulties in order to achieve the advantages.
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. The Official Story. Examples from the Amazon
Chapter 3. The Challenges of Collaboration
Chapter 4. Crossing Boundaries for Collaboration
Chapter 5. The Analytics of Crossing Boundaries
Chapter 6. Inequalities and Politics in Collaboration across Boundaries
Chapter 7. Uncertainty and Surprises when Crossing Boundaries
Chapter 8. Crossing Boundaries and the Self
Chapter 9. Conclusion. Seasons of Collaboration
Stephen G. Perz is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law at the University of Florida.
"Perz's colorful lived examples detail the challenges and advantages of collaboration across international and disciplinary borders. In his quest for meaningful collaboration Perz introduces the reader to an astonishing array of useful literatures. A must read for those interested in overcoming the complex environmental challenges of today!"
– David Salisbury, University of Richmond
"Writing with uncommon honesty and humor, Perz unveils the many devils in the details of cross-boundary collaboration, while convincingly arguing that the accelerated learning it provides builds valuable capacity to address the complex global challenges of today and tomorrow. He draws on diverse academic and policy literatures, as well as dozens of practical vignettes, to illustrate the strategic practices necessary to manage key issues in collaboration – inequality and politics; uncertainty and surprise; personality and leadership – in order to achieve the considerable benefits of crossing disciplinary, organizational, and national borders."
– Marianne Schmink, University of Florida