My career as a collaborator

With research collaborators from across Europe, in Lund, Sweden in 1998

Thoughts of a research collaborator

When you study a subject such as business cartels inevitably you have to consider the arguments about collaboration as distinct from working alone and independently. In the context of economics and competition policy collaboration is now regarded pejoratively, often as dirty business and so has become a dirty word (as in the wartime context). But it may be a different matter in the context of academic and scientific work, creative and artistic work, despite all the prize-giving for ‘originality’ and being the one person at the top of the class, which quite honestly I find quite tiresome. There may be some real value and gain in teamwork and cooperation.

On reflection, I have always been a natural collaborator, both by temperament and through calculating the likely best result. Take a look at my list of academic publications – evidence of years of working with other academics and researchers from many different places around the world. I believe it has led to better work, in ideas, argument, collecting information and the dissemination of all of that, by whatever means. We benefit from the stimulation, the reinforcement, the validation and the fun, and even sometimes the distress, involved in working with others. This point is well made in Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize (Ulf Larsson, ed, 2000), which explores a number of places and times when scientists, thinkers, artists and the like have come together to produce ground-breaking work.

So, that is part of my history: on the whole, not for me the ‘monastic’ method of the researcher, thinker or writer. Working and talking with others is not a matter of sleeping with the enemy, although even that might prove fruitful and fun.