Collegiality is the relationship between colleagues. Colleague is taken to mean a fellow member of the same profession, a group of colleagues united in a common purpose, and used in proper names, such as Electoral College, College of Cardinals, and College of Pontiffs.
Colleagues are those explicitly united in a common purpose and respecting each other's abilities to work toward that purpose. A colleague is an associate in a profession or in a civil or ecclesiastical office. Collegiality can connote respect for another's commitment to the common purpose and ability to work toward it. In a narrower sense, members of the faculty of a university or college are each other's colleagues.
Sociologists of organizations use the word collegiality in a technical sense, to create a contrast with the concept of bureaucracy. Classical authors such as Max Weber consider collegiality as an organizational device used by autocrats to prevent experts and professionals from challenging monocratic and sometimes arbitrary powers. More recently, authors such as Eliot Freidson (USA), Malcolm Waters (Australia) and Emmanuel Lazega (France) have shown that collegiality can now be understood as a full-fledged organizational form. This is especially useful to account for coordination in knowledge intensive organizations in which interdependent members jointly perform non routine tasks – an increasingly frequent form of coordination in knowledge economies. A specific, social discipline comes attached to this organizational form, a discipline described in terms of niche seeking, status competition, lateral control, and power among peers in corporate law partnerships, in dioceses, in scientific laboratories, etc. This view of collegiality is obviously very different from the ideology of collegiality stressing mainly trust and sharing in the collegium.
In the Roman Republic, collegiality was the practice of having at least two people, and always an even number, in each magistrate position of the Roman Senate. Reasons were to divide power and responsibilities among several people, both to prevent the rise of another king and to ensure more productive magistrates. Examples of Roman collegiality include the two consuls and censors; six praetors; eight quaestors; four aediles; ten tribunes and decemviri, etc.
There were several notable exceptions: the prestigious, but largely ceremonial (and lacking imperium) positions of pontifex maximus and princeps senatus held one person each; the extraordinary magistrates of Dictator and Magister Equitum were also one person each; and there were three triumviri.
In the Roman Catholic Church, collegiality refers primarily to "the Pope governing the Church in collaboration with the bishops of the local Churches, respecting their proper autonomy." This had been the practice of the early Church and was revitalized by the Second Vatican Council. One of the major changes during the Second Vatican Council was the Council's encouragement of bishops' conferences and the Pope's establishment of the Synod of Bishops. From the beginning of his papacy Pope Francis, who had twice been elected head of the Argentine Bishops' Conference, has advocated increasing the role of collegiality and synodality in the development of Church teachings.
There has traditionally been a strong element of collegiality in the governance of universities and other higher education institutions. These are environments where individual independence of thought and mutual respect are necessary, particularly in institutions with a strong research base. Collegiality is often contrasted with managerialism which has a more hierarchical structure, with professional managers in leading positions. A managerial approach is often proposed as being more agile and effective at quick decision making, whilst critics suggest that its appeal is rather that it is more likely to comply with commercial and government wishes.
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