The Science of Collaborating Effectively: A Conversation with Debra Mashek

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Listen to “#28 – The Science of Collaborating Effectively: A Conversation with Dr Debra Mashek” on Spreaker.

In this episode of the Breaking the Fever podcast, we speak with Debra Mashek about how true collaboration emerges within and between groups, why it breaks down, and what companies can do to foster it.

We discuss:

– The stages leading to collaboration: separation, networking, coordination, cooperation, and, finally, collaboration
– How romantic relationship dynamics ground the psychology of effective group collaboration 
– The impact of a communal orientation toward other groups as opposed to a short-term, self-interested one
– Why a focus on short-term profits disincentivizes collaboration
– The five things groups need to sustain their collaborations
– How conflict can spark and derail collaboration 
– Why feelings of interconnectedness fortify collaboration

Debra Mashek has spent two decades studying how people form relationships with each other, as well as the challenges and rewards of doing so. She applies relationship theory to understand and improve how individuals relate to others and to help people achieve together that which cannot be achieved alone. Whether connecting higher-ed administrators with their faculties, higher-ed leaders with each other, philanthropists with organizations, or junior-faculty members with senior-faculty members, Mashek engages clients in careful analysis and problem solving, weaving deep relationship knowledge with tailored facilitation, genuine concern for the individuals in the room, and an unwavering commitment to her clients’ goals. She is an accomplished collaboration builder who sees pathways where others see tangled complexity.


Collaboration Continuum
Ingredients for Sustainable Change
Go to to view a 20-page collaboration guide
7 Strategies for Promoting Collaboration in a Crisis,” on Harvard Business Review
10 Questions to Cultivate a Collaborative Mindset,” on Psychology Today