Two terms are usually used interchangeably in most workplaces, collaboration and cooperation. Though they seem similar but they are quite different from one another. In order to understand difference between collaboration and cooperation in the workplace you will have to go through their definitions.
Collaboration is a practice used at various workplaces which allows several people or groups to work together to complete a task and achieve the same goal. Typically collaboration involves two or more people working in an organization to use internet to view or share the documents and the content of various other types with each other to achieve a common goal.
Cooperation is a process that allows various people or groups of people or organizations to act or work on the same project for mutual benefit instead of competing with each other for the benefit of every individual. Though the goal of every participant in cooperation is the same but their interests are individual. It is based on you help me and I help you’ in achieving a common goal for the benefit of both of us individually.
Though in both, collaboration and cooperation, people work together to achieve the same target still there is great difference in their working.
Collaboration is a synchronized and coordinated activity in which the participants continuously try to develop and sustain the solution of the problem shared between them.
Cooperation can be completed by dividing the labor between the participants to solve the assigned portion of the problem individually.
Collaboration is like an orchestra in which the same script is followed by every musician and everyone will play his own role to get a sweet and melodious tune instead of his own sake.
Cooperation allows for a participation which was not planned earlier and can be used for the mutual benefits of the distributed network of the peers. For instance, the sound of an orchestra is the outcome of collaborative activity but the collective sound of drums in a circle is a cooperative work.
Collaboration is a collective activity that works like the parts of an old machine which priorities to work in the group instead of individually. They also encourage other participants to be united and use a common identity to achieve the goal shared with them
Cooperation is a connective activity in which no priority is given to the individual or group of individuals but encourages and supports both at the same time. In a connective activity no shared identity is used because every participant is working to achieve the goal for his own benefit.
Collaboration, if done with good intention, can help in building pyramids of authority and power because it is collective activity. As you go up with a collective activity you will be able to shape your own identity and will be able to direct the efforts of the group in your own interests.
Cooperation, being connective activity, focuses on self-sustaining or self-organizing. It does not require any conductor, blue print or a master architect. You can leave or join the group anytime but the cooperative work will go on as it is whether you participate in it or not.
In today's technologically advanced global economy several online collaboration software tools like Yammer, Slack, Deskaway, ezTalks Meetings etc. are available to collaborate with the employees or clients of a company situated anywhere in this world. These tools are used by many businesses for availing various benefits like:
Saving the cost travelling of the employees to attend the meetings held at a particular venue. Today they can attend meetings through these collaboration tools without moving out of their comfort zone, regardless of their location in the world.
Collaboration tools have also made monitoring of the progress of the project easier. The employer can now get live reports to see the progress and improve the efficiency of his workers for the benefit of his business.
These tools have also made it easier to take fast decisions by conducting online meetings with the executive members of the business located at different offices world over.
But no such tool is available for cooperative activities. The cooperating individuals or groups or businesses have to make their own arrangements to monitor the progress of the joint project.
Thus, collaboration vs cooperation has proved that both of them are quite different from each other.