Thus, the word 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; very often the word is taken to mean that. Sometimes colleague is taken to mean a fellow member of the same profession. The word college is sometimes construed broadly to mean a group of colleagues united in a common purpose, and used in proper names, such as Electoral College, College of Cardinals, College of Pontiffs.
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.
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.
Collegiality also refers to the doctrine held in the Catholic Church that the bishops of the world, collectively considered (the College of Bishops) share the responsibility for the governance and pastoral care of the Church with the Pope. This doctrine was explicitly taught by the Second Vatican Council, though it is grounded in earlier teaching. One of the major changes of the Second Vatican Council was to encourage episcopal conferences (bishops' conferences).
Proponents emphasise that the doctrine does not attempt to diminish the role of the Pope.
Traditionalist critics claim that it is contrary to what they perceive to be the Catholic belief that only the Pope has authority over other bishops. Critics felt bishops' conferences could potentially destroy the independence of each bishop (by de facto forcing individual bishops to go along with a majority vote of a conference), as well as undermine the authority of the Pope (by a conference, synod, or council claiming to have some authority over the Pope).
Other Catholics claim that the Roman Curia has failed to sufficiently involve the bishops in the care of the Church.