Collaboration Math: Enhancing the Effectiveness of Multidisciplinary Collaboration


Reducing the toll of traffic-related injuries requires a concerted effort, calling on the resources, commitment and expertise of diverse agencies, professionals and community members.1,2 Traffic safety is affected by numerous aspects of community life such as how neighborhoods are designed, how fast cars travel and how safe people feel walking or driving to key destinations.

Preventing traffic-related injury is a responsibility shared by many. As evidenced by many federal, state and local efforts, partnerships, coalitions and networks have become common ways to address the incidence of traffic crashes, fatalities and other injuries.

The purpose of this paper is to describe Collaboration Math, a tool developed to help individuals and groups representing different disciplines, organizations or constituencies work together effectively. This practical tool was designed to make key differences and similarities within groups explicit, so that they are more likely to succeed in the challenging work of building and sustaining collaborations.

In 2002, the Traffic Safety Center (TSC)at the University of California, Berkeley worked with Collaboration Math and this paper highlights the process for using the tool by providing specific examples from the TSC. The mission of the TSC is “to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries through multidisciplinary collaboration in education, research and outreach.” Participants of the TSC represent disciplines of public health, engineering, transportation studies and optometry and include the Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley’s Schools of Public Health and Optometry, Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH), the Technology Transfer Program, Prevention Institute, and the Prevention Research Center. The California Office of Traffic Safety, through the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency is the primary funder of the TSC. Prevention Institute worked with members of the TSC to apply Collaboration Math with the goal of supporting and enhancing the group’s multidisciplinary approach.

Publication date: 
September 1, 2003
Publication type: 
Technical Report