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Test of the Model

This paper reports how well the preliminary model fits the experiences represented by the case data. Specifically, we investigated how well the preliminary model accounts for key environmental influences surrounding the collaboration; for key structural characteristics; for participants’ motivations, objectives, and contributions; for the role and effect of technology; for critical success factors; and for key dynamics of the collaboration. Most important, we tried to determine whether the model provides a conceptual structure that is flexible enough to account not only for the similarities among the cases but also accommodates the differences in their experiences and cultural settings.

Table 2. Summary of the fit between the preliminary conceptual model and the case data
Model adequately accounts for
Model does not account for
1. Political, social, economic and cultural environment
  • Political, social, and economic context
  • Fundamental cultural factors
  • The pervasive influence of cultural factors on all other dimensions
2. Institutional, business and technical environment
  • Specific legal authority
  • Absence of specific of legal authority to form the cooperative
  • Specific legal barriers
  • Status & nature of technology infrastructure & applications
  • Nature of a specific business domain
  • History of issues preceding the project
  • Political commitment in lieu of legal authority
3. Characteristics and objectives of the participants
  • Characteristics of each type of organizational partner at project start
  • Motives of each type of organizational partner at project start
  • Changes in participant characteristics, roles, and motives over time
4. The collaboration process
  • Collaboration-building, problem-solving, and collaboration processes employed
  • CSFs predicted by research literature
  • Management philosophy & processes
  • Hypothesized stages are not discernible
  • Expected association of specific CSFs with specific stages was not found
  • Other CSFs not predicted by the literature
  • Learning and adaptation over time
  • Role of key individual actors re: informal leadership and personal commitment
5. Modes of collaboration
  • Governance, risk & resource sharing, authority structures, interorganizational management
  • Organizational structure of the collaboration is not discernible
  • Dynamics of changing circumstances and roles
6. Project and collaboration performance
  • Collaboration expectations and performance from organizational point of view
  • Service expectations and performance from the point of view of external users
  • Personal & professional performance expectations and impacts on individual participants
  • Independence of collaboration performance from service performance
  • Ongoing effects of performance throughout the relationship

Table 2 summarizes our findings on the adequacy of the preliminary model. It lists the main focus of the variables of each dimension and indicates where the model does and does not account for them when compared to the complete set of interviews and documentary evidence. The model adequately accounts for most of the hypothesized variables but it failed to fit well with the data in two ways: (1) some variables were identified in the data that were not present in the preliminary model, and (2) some variables were present in the model, but were not discernible from the data. Type 2 variables are presented in the table in italics for ease in identification. In addition, the relationships among variables and dimensions were inadequately addressed by the preliminary model.

As Table 2 indicates, the model does fit the data reasonably well for many aspects of the five dimensions, but it does not fit some of the cultural aspects, changes in participants’ involvement over time, the collaboration structures, critical success factors, the dynamic elements of the collaboration process, or the pervasive effects of performance.