Collaboration: Speculating about the future

Randolph Kent's Think Piece for the Humanitarian Futures Programme considers the inter-relationship between the changing dimensions and dynamics of humanitarian threats and new forms of collaboration. and seeks to identify critical changes in the environment in which humanitarian organisations will have to operate over the coming decade and various innovative practices that will alter many aspects of traditional collaborative practices and structures. The past two decades have witnessed an upsurge in formal and informal collaborative mechanisms at global, regional and national levels. Their functions have ranged from policydevelopment and advocacy to joint operational activities and information sharing. While inno sense have such mechanisms been perfect, there has emerged a clear recognition throughout the humanitarian sector that individual organisational objectives and achievements are increasingly dependent upon the capacities of others. This sense of inter-dependence is also reflected in attitudinal changes by individuals as well as organisations within the sector. Kent considers three key questions:

1. In light of possible humanitarian futures, what will be the sorts of collaboration gaps that might need to be filled to meet that future?
2. What will be the consequences of shifting from “off-line” to “on-line” communications for traditional collaborative structures?
3. What are the critical challenges that the humanitarian sector will have to face in light of new forms of “on-line” collaboration?

An underlying assumption of is that changes in the very nature of humanitarian threats over the next decade will create new needs for and new types of collaboration. He posits seven possible changes that that could directly affect the ways that humanitarian crises are generated and addressed including new collaboration tools such as social networking; cross-sector collaborations and boundary spanning and non-hierarchical information communities.

The compete essay is available: http://www.humanitarianfutures.org/mainsite/downloads/stakeholdersForum/2008/CollaborationThinkPiece.pdf