What Do We Mean by Collaboration, and When is a 'Team' Not a 'Team'? A Qualitative Unbundling of Terms and Meanings

Anne Croker, Joy Higgs, Franziska Trede

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    'Collaboration' and 'team' are terms commonly used in literature related to the provision of health care, including rehabilitation. However the complexity of the phenomena represented by these terms is often overlooked. 'Collaboration' is rarely defined, and 'teams' are often presented as easily identifiable and stable entities. Simplistic use of these terms often results in different aspects of interprofessional practice being researched and discussed without reference to the 'messiness' (the ambiguities and complexities) surrounding professional practice. As a consequence health professionals may have difficulties in understanding the relevance of such research to their particular situations. This paper explores the complexities of the phenomenon of collaboration and the concept of team, with the aim of highlighting the benefits of researchers embracing rather than simplifying these phenomena. The paper reports on emerging models in action which is one part of a wider research project exploring collaboration within rehabilitation teams. The research approach was informed by hermeneutic phenomenology. Insights gained through this project led to the development of two models: the first conceptualising collaboration in relation to domains of process, product and players; the other model proposing the notion of collaborative arenas. The model of collaborative arenas recognises the blurred boundaries and interrelated team memberships that occur in rehabilitation teams. Both models informed ongoing data collection and analysis for this research project and have potential to inform conceptualisation of teams and collaboration for other researchers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-42
    Number of pages15
    JournalQualitative Research Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'What Do We Mean by Collaboration, and When is a 'Team' Not a 'Team'? A Qualitative Unbundling of Terms and Meanings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this