An MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) outlines the shared perspective of two or more individuals or entities toward a certain goal or project. An MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) differs in that it details the specific roles and tasks to be assumed by the parties in support of their shared objective.
Both types of agreements are built upon a commitment to a common goal or outcome. An MOU is a way to clarify shared understanding and commitment to a position or a project. It establishes the intentions of the parties relative to a common goal. The MOU does not grant rights and does not involve a legal or enforceable commitment between the parties. Rather, the purpose of the MOU is to establish common ground.
The MOA can be seen as the next step in deepening a collaboration. An MOA goes beyond common ground to clearly define the role of each party toward an agreed upon objective. An MOA is enforceable in a court of law. It grants rights to the parties and establishes the specific responsibilities and actions to which each of the parties is committing, while clarifying the specific goals and objectives that motivate each party's commitment to the collaborative project.