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The Skill Set of the Successful Collaborator

O’Leary, R., Choi, Y. & Gerard, C. M. (2012). Public Administration Review, 72(s1), S70–S83.

In this article, the authors focus on members of the U.S. Senior Executive Service who choose collaboration as a management strategy to increase performance and, in particular, their views of the skill set of a successful collaborator. Based on the current literature on collaboration and networks, these executives might be expected to identify strategic thinking and strategic management as the most important skills. Contrary to expectations, the federal executives most frequently mentioned individual attributes and interpersonal skills as essential for successful collaboration, followed by group process skills, strategic leadership skills, and substantive/technical expertise. The article provides empirical substantiation of the previous literature, with one major difference: the strong reporting of the importance of individual attributes by federal executives (much more than previously reported by other scholars in the field). Strategic leadership skills, strategic management skills, and technical skills matter, but they are not the most important factors behind successful collaborations, according to federal executives.