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This document seeks to clarify the difference between a Collaborative Organization (CO) and a Collaborative Organization Unit (COU), and why a COU is more than just a group. In short, a CO is the parent organization, and the COU are the departments and working groups covered to some extent by the policies and procedures of the CO. It is the concept of groups combined with onboarding and offboarding enrollment workflows, assurance levels, and the management of data and processes at different levels.


titleCOU Definition

COU: The COU is an optional construct to allow you to define an organizational structure within a CO. (e.g., a self-contained collection or department within a CO; alternatively, a collection of privileges within a CO). The workflow for enrolling people may have details specific to a COU.

If you have an organization with common goals and common policies, and yet within that understanding you have unique requirements that the different groups will have different paths to joining and participating in those groups, your collaboration–a single entity with common goals–has unique requirements among the different groups and/or departments regarding how participants will join those parts of your collaborations, then, you have a CO that contains COUs.  If you have only one , common set of policies that define how individuals are added or removed from the CO, then you do not have COU even though you may have groups for simple access control.

A CO versus a COU


- A Use Case

LIGO is a virtual organization with a concrete goal (discovering gravitational waves) and specific large equipment (the detectors) to help reach that goal. LIGO, however, is not a uniform, flat organization. Within LIGO, there are several smaller organizations. These smaller organizations have specific needs regarding how new people join in their groups, and yet, these smaller organizations all have something in common - the parent organization of LIGO, where access to the equipment and the data is controlled, where agreements may be signed with new organizations wanting to be a part of (or a partner of) LIGO.