“He just doesn’t catch it in his heart.”
Collaboration is a well-used term in all kinds of settings. The term often encapsulates beliefs around how collective action yields improved results compared to individual action. Such improved results from inter-organisational collaboration now appear utterly taken for granted. Has working with people from other organisations become a value to pursue in and of itself? Abstract overall goals for joint work bolster the make-believe around how people from different organisations easily agree a set of joint goals. In practice there is a web of goals: people bring their own personal goals, as well as the goals that they conceptualise as belonging to their home organisations and to the organisation-of-organisations. I draw on participant observation in two settings of inter-organisational collaboration. My interpretation of practices in the two settings makes clearer how values underpin everyday encounters. I explore how talk of goals in each setting hints at values that people associate with participation in joint work. I suggest that participants in settings of inter-organisational collaboration build in moments to explore and recognise the values that underpin goals. This helps counter idealisation of what it means to work together with colleagues from other organisations. Without such exploratory moments, people risk speaking past each other rather than truly making the difference they hoped their joint work would bring about.