Difference Between Coordination and Cooperation

Key Difference – Coordination vs Cooperation

Although coordination and cooperation are both very important aspects in conducting projects, there is a difference between the two. When managing a project, this is not usually and individual effort on the contrary it is a collective effort where many individuals are connected to the project through different aspects. While some may handle financials, others may handle planning. Likewise, there are many committees that work towards the achievement of the project. In such a scenario, coordination and cooperation among the individuals are vital. First, let us define the two words. Coordination can be defined as the act of negotiating with others to work together effectively. On the other hand, Cooperation refers to working together towards a common end. This highlights that there is a key difference between coordination and cooperation. This article aims at providing a better understanding of the two words and explaining the difference.

What is Coordination?

Coordination refers to the act of negotiating with others to work together effectively. When managing projects or any other group work within organizations settings, coordination among the workers as well as the departments are essential in order to perform well. When there is an active process of coordination, it is easier to transfer information from one to another. This creates an ambiance where every worker or member is aware of the project or particular target.

Coordination is also essential when sharing resources and information. Let us take an example of sharing resources. If one department is unaware of the resource usage, this can affect the overall performance as they may get delayed in procedures.

Let us take another example of information sharing. For a particular project, a fundraiser is being organized. The event ends up being a complete disaster due to the lack of coordination among the various committees such as the food committee, the financial committee, etc. This chaos is a result of ineffective coordination. Now, let us move on to the next word.

Coordination vs Cooperation

What is Cooperation?

Unlike coordination that stresses on negotiating with others, cooperation refers to working together towards a common end. Cooperation is not only a positive feature but also a mandatory feature if the group wishes to perform well. Cooperating with others refers to the act of working with all the team members or workers.

This can often be a very challenging task as people can have biases, prejudices, idiosyncrasies, etc. Often these become a strong barrier against cooperation. However, when doing group work, it is necessary to be flexible in order to work with others effectively and have an open mind. If the workers are often reminded of the fact that they are all working towards a common goal cooperation can be improved. In most organizations what occurs is an unhealthy competition that reduces the level of cooperation among the workers.

This highlights that although the two processes are of equal importance to effective performance these are different from one another. The difference that exists between the two can be summarized as follows.

Difference Between Coordination and Cooperation

What is the Difference Between Coordination and Cooperation?

Definitions of Coordination and Cooperation:

Coordination: Coordination refers to the act of negotiating with others to work together effectively.

Cooperation: Cooperation refers to working together towards a common end.

Characteristics of Coordination and Cooperation:


Coordination: Coordination highlights on negotiating and also disseminating information and resources so that it will guarantee effective performance.

Cooperation: Cooperation focuses on working together in order to realize a goal.


Coordination: Lack of coordination can lead to confusions and misinterpretation among workers.

Cooperation: Some members may not be willing to cooperate with others. This can clearly affect the overall goal achievement.


Image Courtesy:
1.”President Reagan holds a oval office staff meeting 1981“. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons
2. U.S. and Indonesian sailors play tug of war during a Sports Day event in support of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 28, 2013 130528-N-YU572-332 By MC1 Jay C. Pugh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons