I've seen these phrases in some technical articles. Is there any difference between these phrases?


A collaborative environment is one in which individuals in the organization work with one another in ways that emphasize (this is a list of largely overlapping synonyms) sharing, mutual assistance, team spirit, etc.

A collaboration environment is one in which individuals do not work in isolation, each one tending to his or her own turf, but instead tasks will often be assigned to two or more people to work on jointly. Come to think of it, practically all organizations can be said to be collaboration environments.

The first expression implies a value judgment: we consider a collaborative environment a good thing and hold it out as an ideal. The second is a value-neutral description.

  • Do you have a source for this? – Pitarou Apr 14 '12 at 12:48
  • @Pitarou Sorry, no reference. Since I'm new here, could you please tell me if a disclaimer (e.g., "just my personal opinion as a native speaker") is expected every time that an Answer contains no references? – Eugene Seidel Apr 14 '12 at 13:22
  • I'm not aware of any particular convention on the matter. However, I don't think this particular distinction is recognised in "general" English. It is the jargon of a particular speech community (management theorists?). So if you can't find a source, could you at least specify who is making this distinction? – Pitarou Apr 15 '12 at 8:42
  • @Pitarou The source is me and my data is the reams of corporate literature that have come across my desk. Take it for what it's worth, which may not be much :) – Eugene Seidel Apr 15 '12 at 10:14

A collaborative environment is one in which collaboration is being achieved whereas a collaboration environment is one in which collaboration is intended.

The latter describes the expectation or purpose of the place whereas the former describes how the place is operating.

  • I agree. For example, you couldn't say: "Why is nobody cooperating when the company has provided us a perfect collaborative environment." If nobody's collaborating, it's not collaborative at all. And the following is very perplexing: "Though the company doesn't want us to collaborate, they've provided us a collaboration environment." If you swap the words, they both make sense. – David Schwartz Apr 15 '12 at 12:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.