Aim: This paper critically reviews the literature on international collaboration and analyses the collaborative process involved in producing a nursing workforce policy analysis. Background: Collaboration is increasingly promoted as a means of solving shared problems and achieving common goals; however, collaboration creates its own opportunities and challenges. Evidence about the collaboration process, its outcomes and critical success factors is lacking. Methods: A literature review and content analysis of data collected from six participants (from five European countries) members of the European Academy of Nursing Science Scholar Collaborative Workforce Workgroup, using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis template. Results: Two major factors affecting scholarly collaboration were identified: Facilitators, which incorporated personal attributes and enabling contexts/mechanisms, including individual commitment, responsibility and teamwork, facilitative supportive structures and processes. The second, Barriers, incorporated unmet needs for funding; time; communication and impeding contexts/mechanisms, including workload and insufficient support/mentorship. Conclusions: The literature review identified a low level of evidence on collaboration processes, outcomes, opportunities and challenges. The SWOT analysis identified critical success factors, planning strategies and resources of effective international collaboration. Implications for Nursing Management: Collaboration is an important concept for management. Evidence-based knowledge of the critical success factors facilitating and impeding collaboration could help managers make collaboration more effective. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.