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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dissecting the Consortium: A Uniquely Flexible Platform for Collaboration

Andrew Updegrove, Standards Today Bulletin

"The opportunities and imperatives for collaborative action of all kindsamong both for-profit and non-profit entities are growing as the worldbecomes more interconnected and problem solving becomes less susceptibleto unilateral action. Those activities include research and development,information acquisition and sharing, group purchasing, open sourcesoftware and content creation, applying for government grant funding,and much more.
At the same time, the rapid spread of Internet and Web accessibility allowscollaborative activities to be undertaken more easily, and among morewidely distributed participants, than has ever been possible before. Butwhile the technology enabling collaboration has become ubiquitous,hard-won knowledge regarding best practices, successful governancestructures, and appropriate legal frameworks for forming and managingsuccessful collaborative activities has yet to be widely shared. As aresult, those wishing to launch new collaborative projects may havedifficulty finding reliable guidance in order to create structuresappropriate to support their activities.
In this article, I provide a list of attributes that define and functionsthat are common to consortia, an overview of how their activities aretypically staffed and supported, a comparative taxonomy of the existinglegal/governance structures that have been created to address them, andan overview of the legal concerns which consortium founders need toaddress...
Multiple forces in the world today are converging to increase the easeand raise the value of collaboration in both the public and privatesectors. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly common in business literatureto find the opinion expressed that companies that fail to collaboratewith their peers will be at a severe disadvantage to their more-willingcompetitors. In light of such opportunities, it is important for thefounders of new collaborative projects, and their legal counsel, to befamiliar with the types of frameworks available to serve as platformsfor their endeavors, and to choose wisely before launching theirinitiatives. Happily, the consortium model, in all of its variations,provides a uniquely flexible and appropriate foundation upon which thecollaborations of the future can be based..."

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