When several people work together, we call them a team.

When companies work together, we call them a ____?

They are not a group, as that signifies a permanent relationship. What is a temporary "team" of companies called that only work together on one project? I think there is a term, but cannot remember it.

  • collaboration, partnership, consortium...
    – Jim
    Sep 23 '16 at 5:33
  • In UK corporate law, the word "partnership" is an important sub-division outside of the more common format of the ubiquitous Limited Liability Company. I know it's an important sub-topic in commercial law because the standard practitioners reference book, 'Lindley on Partnership', is one of the biggest tomes I've ever seen. Sep 23 '16 at 6:30
  • @Jim I tend to avoid the use of the word "partnership" because of it's legal sense and meaning, whereas the use of the expression partner company does not imply a legal partnership, merely a commercial cooperation that would not be covered by Partnership Law Sep 23 '16 at 6:39
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    If two companies create a subsidiary entity for the purpose, sharing ownership, that's a joint venture. I never thought about this before, but I guess consortium implies a larger group of companies with no such subsidiary. Sep 23 '16 at 11:33
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    You could always call them a cartel.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 24 '16 at 1:35

I'd definitely opt for consortium

Noun Plural: consortia

Group of people, companies, etc., that agree to work together


This is also the word used by the UK Government to describe a group of companies involved in, for example their Private Finance Initiative - basically big companies build schools, hospitals etc. for the government.

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    In corporate-speak that's quite correct but it's also somewhat archaic unless the word is being used in a formal way as your edit quite correctly points out. Sep 23 '16 at 6:10
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    @what I think that we might find that if the word consortium were to be applied to a few associated companies of modest size and turnover, the commercial community would consider this to be putting on airs and graces. To my thinking, consortium conjures up a picture of more than a few companies of modest size but rather many companies with prominent positions in the market which have bandied together in investing capital and/or expertise in a joint project like the building and company-setup of the Channel Tunnel between dear old Blighty (UK) and France. Sep 23 '16 at 7:18
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    @PeterPoint Thank you for that elaboration. That is exactly the context in which I want to use the word: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/56313/8976
    – user32638
    Sep 23 '16 at 7:19
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    @PeterPoint Consortium is definitely the right word and is widely used, but usually implying a biggish project. A venture between Shell, BP and Exxon to extract oil and gas in a particular field would be a "consortium". The jointly owned operation usually has a name and organisational structure of its own. It often involves the formation of a subsidiary, jointly-owned company. But a one-off agreement to work together between, say Wembley Stadium and XYZ Entertainments to put on a concert, sell the tickets etc would probably be referred to as a "corporate partnership".
    – WS2
    Sep 23 '16 at 7:30
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    For those of you who might consider the Law boring and without mirth, may I commend to you the 18th century civil case of two litigants, a "partnership" of two highwaymen, who sued each other under Partnership Law for an account of their joint plunder. Everet v. Williams (1725) cited in Lindley & Banks on Partnership. Sep 23 '16 at 8:05

The use of the word "partner" in the context of two or more companies associating with one another is now very common and one often sees some reference to our "Partner Companies" in corporate writing. This merely announces an association or cooperation that is not covered by Partnership Law in the UK, for example. Company Law is mutually exclusive. To use the word Partnership would express or imply the legal status of a "Partnership" but not that of a Company. To use the word partner company has no such legal implication of a partnership under UK law.

(Lindley & Banks on Partnership)

  • So if I undestand you (or the legalese) correctly, if I say "a partnership of corporations" then that has a specific legal meaning, whereas "a consortium of corporations" does not. Correct?
    – user32638
    Sep 23 '16 at 6:58
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    @what No. Not quite. I sense an oxymoron coming on here if we were to say a "partnership of corporations"; it's rather like the Royal President Hotel I happen to walk past everyday. A legal partnership under the Common Law (UK as it became & colonial outposts elsewhere) is centuries old and predates the introduction of the (private) limited liability company which British merchant adventurers used to safeguard much of their investment when they sailed east to colonize India and Southeast Asia for King and country. A "consortium of corporations" is more correct in the legal and aural sense. Sep 23 '16 at 7:46

joint venture

A joint venture (JV) is a business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task... However, the venture is its own entity, separate and apart from the participants' other business interests.

industry cluster or business cluster

A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. Clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete, nationally and globally.


The answer by @BladorthinTheGrey is correct. I would also volunteer corporate group in the case where the companies are controlled by a common source.


A corporate group or group of companies is a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control.

Source: Wikipedia

  • Interesting. The German version of that Wikipedia article actually lists a consortium as a form of corporate group: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unternehmensverbindung#Konsortium Other forms are a cartel, a syndicate, or a joint venture, although the meaning of those terms might differ between German and English. Anyway, thanks for that, although I guess I'll have to study economics to understand the difference.
    – user32638
    Sep 23 '16 at 12:51

Another good word is syndicate

a group of people or businesses that work together


I used to work for a "Highly Protected Risk" property insurance company that was a syndicate of other insurance companies sharing ownership in the joint venture.

  • Embry, nice first answer. If you stick around make sure to take the tour or have a look at the help center to find out more about good answers.
    – Helmar
    Sep 24 '16 at 13:15

In business, a group of independent companies informally pursuing a common goal is sometimes referred to as a gang.

For example, Eric Schmidt in 2011 referred to Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon as a "gang of four" dominating consumer internet. (Source: https://techcrunch.com/2011/05/31/schmidt-gang-four-google-apple-amazon-facebook/.)


Business AllianceBusiness Dictionary

An arrangement or relationship among independent businesses with corresponding goals, established for a specific purpose and often for reducing costs and improving customer service. The collaboration is usually managed by a team with members from each business and held together by one agreement giving an equal share of risk and opportunity to each business. An example would be a shared marketing program between Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble.

The following are the five basic types:

  1. sales alliance: an agreement to sell products or services that complement one another

  2. solution-specific: an agreement to develop and sell a particular business solution together

  3. geographic-specific: an agreement to market products and services in a particular geographic area together

  4. investment: an agreement to combine funds for shared investment

  5. joint venture: an agreement to share control, profit, and loss in a particular economic undertaking

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