Many people have always believed that more can be accomplished when government, business, and the general public cooperate with a common goal in mind. Unfortunately it has taken the recent manifestations of two of humankind’s oldest scourges—terrorism and disease—to bring the point home. For example, the lack of collaboration among various government agencies prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, has been found to have been of such an egregious nature that a new Homeland Security umbrella department was formed to ensure a new level of cooperation. And in China in early 2003, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was found to have spread far beyond initial reports, a discovery that led in April of that year to the unprecedented step of firing the mayor of Beijing for mishandling the situation. To handle potential future attacks and outbreaks of disease, as well as to maximize the results of collaboration when times are good, it is imperative for citizens, the private sector, and government agencies—especially at the local, regional, and state levels—to learn how, when and why they should share information, knowledge, and resources to get things done. Collaboration is the real challenge facing free democracies in the future, and the success of modern societies will hinge upon our meeting this challenge.
The community level is a most promising arena in which to start and to practice many collaborative ventures. The power of citizens as individuals and within groups can be expected to increase dramatically, in line with more involvement of the media and academia. This book presents various examples of successful collaboration and partnership for inspiration and presents a theoretical typology among such closely related concepts as integration, partnership, coooperation, coordination, and association. Current thinking in the field is rather pessimistic about the actual willingness to collaborate among all parties. This book offers a more optimistic (but also realistic) pattern of alliance that is vital for modern societies that carry the heavy burden of citizens’ growing demands and needs.