This study aims to fill part of a knowledge gap in the collaboration process and learn the practical ways to establish it. It is done by implementing a Soft Systems Methodology-based Action Research (SSM-based AR) to improve the collaborative working relationship among the four teams in one of the Big Four firms serving one global multinational client. This study learns the following: (1) Having similar objectives such as: serving the same client and providing better services for generating more revenues keeps motivating the four teams to continue collaborating. This learning informs the practitioners that clarifying the mutuality dimension is essential before starting the collaboration process. (2) SSM is the right methodology to study the collaboration process. Its basic assumption regarding conflicting worldviews in the social world provides a foundation to acknowledge and accept the conflict of self-interest versus collective interest, the agency dimension of the collaboration process. (3) The social capital (mutuality and norms) and agency dimensions play a more significant role than the structural (governance and administration) dimension in establishing the collaboration process in a professional services network firm (PSNF). (4) The practical steps to implement the five dimensions of the collaboration process should start by understanding the mutuality dimensions. (5) Embedding the theoretical framework in the root definition of SSM guides to address the dual imperatives of SSM-based AR.
- Action research
- Collaboration process
- Professional services firm
- Professional services network firm
- Soft systems methodology-based action research