Collaborative decision-making (CDM) is a tool that brings together several entities, organizations or individuals to make a decision on an issue that has generally a common goal. It is not simply a gathering of independent, but of inter-dependent and closely related entities that are somehow tied to each other via a mutual goal or issue. Several factors may influence the process, among which the number of actors, the level of interdependence, the level of mutual trust and acceptance are crucial factors. For example, the more actors that are involved in decision-making process, the more complex the process would be.
This is especially due to the fact that large number of participants brings more ideas to table, thus making it difficult to arrive at a decision that would satisfy everybody. It might be advantageous because of multiplicity and variety of ideas and perspectives; however, it might be disadvantageous if a decision is to be taken immediately and time is limited. Collaborative decision-making is also affected by the level of trust among participants. High level of trust brings more informal and thus frank relationships leading to open and truthful exchange of ideas. Trust is essential if the relationship at hand is expected to be long-run. Likewise, the level of inter-dependence among participants would determine the level of their commitment. If actors involved in the process understand and know that they need each other, they would focus on deal-oriented, rather than dispute-oriented process. They would also be more proactive and unbiased. Mutual acceptance of actors regardless of their identity, background and values is also crucial for collaborative decision-making process, which would lead to objective and inclusive exchange of thoughts.
Other than the above-mentioned factors, there are such factors like previous experience, decision-support systems, and decision-making mode (distributed vs. non-distributed) also play an important role in determining the effectiveness of the collaborative decision-making process. Generally speaking, collaborative decision-making is preferable when variety of ideas is crucial for respective decision-makers. One should note, however, that one of the problematic sides of CDM is that performance measurement is not always possible due to shared accountability, which makes everybody innocent in case of a failure. CDM is not usable if actors need to act quickly, and if there is a huge gap between the actors in terms of identity, values and norms.