(Synergy can also refer to a program for sharing a keyboard/mouse between multiple computers)

Synergy or synergism, most often refers to the phenomenon of two or more discrete influences or agents acting in common to create an effect which is greater than the sum of the effects each is able to create independently.

Synergy has origins as a theological term describing the cooperation of human effort with divine will. But since the 1990s it has become a common business buzzword. See also gestalt.

Synergy has also been described as:

  • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, or more colloquially, 2+2 > 4.
  • The difference between the combined effect and the sum of individual effects resulting from the interaction of a group of humans, agents or forces.
  • "Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately" as given in Buckminster Fuller's book "Synergetics".


Drug Synergism

If more than one depressant drug is used (e.g. alcohol and Valium), the combination can cause a much greater reaction than simply the sum of the effects of each drug. In this particular case, the most serious consequence of drug synergy is the exaggerated respiratory depression that is fatal when left untreated.

Combined Effects of Pests

In a biological host organism population, the introduction of parasite A may cause 10% fatalities of the individuals, and parasite B may also cause 10% loss. When both parasites are present, the losses are observed to be significantly greater than the expected 20%, and it is said that the parasites in combination have a synergistic effect. An example is beekeeping in North America where three foreign parasites of the honeybee, acarine mite, tracheal mite and the small hive beetle, all were introduced within a short period of time.

Health Effects of Pesticides

During the registration of pesticides in the US exhaustive tests are performed to discern health effects on humans at various levels. A regulatory upper limit of presence in foods is then placed on this pesticide. As long as residues in the food stay below this regulatory level, health effects are indiscernible and the food is considered safe to consume.

However in normal agricultural practice it is rare to use only a single pesticide. During the production of a crop five or six different materials may be used. Each of them has had determined a regulatory level at which they would be considered individually safe.

Yet, since they have not ever been tested in combination, no data has ever been produced to show whether there is or is not a synergistic effect of the various combinations that humans consume. Some groups think that the rising rates of cancer, asthma and other health problems may be caused by this; others have other explanations. This question will likely be answered only after years of exposure by the population in general.

Interacting Humans

Person A alone is too short to reach an apple on a tree and person B is too short as well. Once person B sits on the shoulders of person A, they are more than tall enough to reach the apple. In this example, the synergy would be one apple.

Another case would be two politicians. If each is able to gather one million votes on their own, but together they were able to appeal to 2.5 million voters, their synergy would have produced 500,000 votes.

Corporate Synergy

A corporate synergy refers to a financial benefit that a corporation expects to realize when it merges with or acquires another corporation. This type of synergy is a nearly ubiquitous feature of a corporate acquisition and is a negotiating point between the buyer and seller that impacts the final price both parties agree to. There are two distinct types of corporate synergies:


A revenue synergy refers to the opportunity of a combined corporate entity to generate more revenue than its two predecessor standalone companies would be able to generate. For example, if company A sells product X through its sales force, company B sells product Y, and company A decides to buy company B then the new company could use each sales person to sell products X and Y thereby increasing the revenue that each sales person generates for the company.


A cost synergy refers to the opportunity of a combined corporate entity to reduce or eliminate expenses associated with running a business. Cost synergies are realized by eliminating positions that are viewed as duplicitous within the merged entity. Examples include the head quarters office of one of the predecessor companies, certain executives, the human resources department, or other employees of the predecessor companies. This is related to the economic concept of Economies of Scale.

External Links

es:sinerga fr:synergie fa:هم‌افزایی ru:Синергия pl:Synergia


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