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Collaboration in Organizations  

John G. McClellan

Among organizational communication scholars, the term collaboration is most often used when exploring interactive practices by which a variety of organizational stakeholders (individuals, groups, or organizational representatives) engage in generative conversations to accomplish collective tasks, contend with mutual problems, or pursue mutually beneficial goals. An emergent collaborative turn in organization studies arose as the complex and interconnected challenges facing contemporary organizations intersected with increased acceptance of the constitutive relationship of communication and organizing and growing concern about the inherent politics of meaning making. Motivated by mutual understanding, rather than persuasion and control, scholars focused on collaboration in organizations to attend to the complex ways organizational decisions are made as well as how organizational practices and overall understandings of organizations are constituted and by whom. As interest in collaboration emerged, scholars increasingly recognized the value of mutual engagement as a key motivating force for generating creativity and innovative decision-making. Across the interdisciplinary research on collaboration, covering a wide range of organizational contexts and issues, several discourses of collaboration have emerged. These meta-perspectives of collaboration include collaboration as collective activity, collaboration as responsive engagement, collaboration as pursuit of equitable relations, collaboration as dialogic process, and collaboration as constituted in communication. Future research on collaboration can provide meaningful insights into contemporary organization studies especially if it is attentive to issues of diversity and intercultural communication, everyday intraorganizational contexts, new developments in collaborative technologies, and issues of power and the politics of meaning making. As scholars continue to explore varied forms of collaborative organizing, the ongoing study of collaboration in organizations is ripe with potential for contributing to understanding how communication can promote innovative decision-making in ways that realize the benefits of organizational diversity as organizations work to address today’s complex interconnected problems.

Article

Health Promotion and Risk Reduction in Congregations  

Dennis Myers, Terry A. Wolfer, and Maria L. Hogan

A complex web of attitudinal, cultural, economic, and structural variables condition the decision to respond to communications promoting healthy behavior and participation in risk reduction initiatives. A wide array of governmental, corporate, and voluntary sector health-related organizations focus on effective messaging and health care options, increasing the likelihood of choices that generate and sustain wellness. Researchers also recognize the significant and multifaceted ways that religious congregations contribute to awareness and adoption of health-promoting behaviors. These religiously based organizations are credible disseminators of health education information and accessible providers of venues that facilitate wellness among congregants and community members. The religious beliefs, spirituality, and faith practices at the core of congregational cultural life explain the trustworthiness of their messaging, the health of their adherents, and the intention of their care provision. Considerable inquiry into the impact of religion and spirituality on health reveals substantive correlations with positive psychological factors known to sustain physical and psychological health—optimism, meaning and purpose, hope, well-being, self-esteem, gratefulness, social support, and marital stability. However, the beliefs and practices that create receptivity to health-related communications, care practices, and service provision can also be a deterrent to message impact and participation in healthy behaviors. When a productive relationship between spirituality and health exists, congregational membership offers rituals (e.g., worship, education, mission) and relationships that promote spiritual well-being. Research demonstrates increased life satisfaction and meaning in life, with health risk reduction associated with a sense of belonging, enriched social interactions, and shared experiences. Congregations communicate their commitment to wellness of congregants and community members alike through offering a variety of congregationally based and collaborative wellness and risk reduction programs. These expressions of investment in individual and community health range across all age, gender, and ethnic demographics and address most of the prominent diagnostic categories. These programs are ordered along three dimensions: primary prevention (health care messaging and education), secondary prevention (risk education), and tertiary prevention (treatment). Applying the dimensions of sponsorship, goal/mission, focus, services, staffing, and intended outcome highlights the similarities and differences among them. Several unique facets of congregational life energize the effectiveness of these programs. Inherent trust and credibility empower adherence, and participation decisions and financial investment provide service availability. These assets serve as attractive contributions in collaborations among congregations and between private and public health care providers. Current research has not yet documented the best practices associated with program viability. However, practice wisdom in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of congregationally based and collaborative health-related programs suggests guidelines for future investigation. Congregational leaders and health care professionals emphasize well-designed needs assessment. Effective congregational health promotion and risk reduction may be linked to the availability and expertise of professionals and volunteers enacting the roles of planner/program developer, facilitator, convener/mediator, care manager/advocate, health educator, and direct health care service provider.

Article

Communities of Practice in Health and Risk Messaging  

Nicola Andrew

A community of practice (CoP) situated in a health and risk context is an approach to collaboration among members that promotes learning and development. In a CoP, individuals come together virtually or physically and coalesce around a common purpose. CoPs are defined by knowledge, rather than task, and encourage novices and experienced practitioners to work together to co-create and embed sustainable outputs that impact on theory and practice development. As a result, CoPs provide an innovative approach to incorporating evidence-based research associated with health and risk into systems and organizations aligned with public well-being. CoPs provide a framework for constructing authentic and collaborative learning. Jeanne Lave and Etienne Wenger are credited with the original description of a CoP as an approach to learning that encompasses elements of identity, situation, and active participation. CoPs blend a constructivist view of learning, where meaningful experience is set in the context of “self” and the relationship of “self” with the wider professional community. The result is an integrated approach to learning and development achieved through a combination of social engagement and collaborative working in an authentic practice environment. CoPs therefore provide a strategic approach to acknowledging cultural differences related to translating health and risk theory into practice. In health and risk settings, CoPs situate and blend theory and practice to create a portal for practitioners to generate, shape, test, and evaluate new ideas and innovations. Membership of a CoP supports the development of professional identity within a wider professional sphere and may support community members to attain long range goals.

Article

Transnational Cooperation in Journalism  

Maria Konow-Lund, Amanda Gearing, and Peter Berglez

The journalism industry has used technology and cooperation to convey information around the world since the mid-1800s when six American newspapers aligned to form the Associated Press. The nonprofit news agency was a business collaboration that allowed members to share content with one another. Cooperation in journalism was not always compatible with the industry’s traditional business model, however, which valued exclusivity. As technology progressed, cooperation grew ever easier and more productive. The ultimate emergence of the internet has consummated this trend, facilitating collaborations among groups of reporters across the globe. These collaborations allow individual groups to retain and capitalize upon their geographical exclusivity while enhancing their collective ability to provide domestic stories with a transnational context or to cover cross-border or even global issues.