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Publication type: Master thesis
Title: Information flow in humanitarian relief operations : interviews and a case study including process mapping and the development of practical recommendations in a booklet
Authors: Rominger, Andrea
Advisors / Reviewers: Angerer, Alfred
Thakur-Weigold, Bublu Sarbani
DOI: 10.21256/zhaw-2097
Extent: 99
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher / Ed. Institution: ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften
Language: English
Subject (DDC): 363: Environmental and security problems
Abstract: Emergency relief is an industry focusing on rapid life-saving assistance. The environment is complex, the context fragile and rapidly changing circumstances cause operations to be unpredictable. 80 percent of all funds are spent on logistics, out of which 40 percent are wasted. Increasing efficiency of humanitarian operations makes more resources available to directly address humanitarian needs and strengthens accountability to donors. The hypothesis is that, detecting and addressing impediments in communication processes increases the efficiency of humanitarian operations as information flow (IF) determines material flow. Therefore, this thesis asks which impediments to IF exist, elaborates several ideas for improvement of these processes and seeks to make the findings available in a handy format for practitioners. The research is done based on the data collected of the exchanges with 13 relief experts working for five International Humanitarian Organisations (IHO) and the humanitarian department of a governmental organisation. Three research methods were applied: interviews, a questionnaire and a process mapping. The context of emergency relief was explored through four interviews. A clear definition of roles and responsibilities and clear lines of communication were identified as important factors influencing information flow. The impediments experienced in practice were gathered through a questionnaire filled in by ten relief experts. High staff turnover turns out to be the most frequently experienced obstacle. The process mapping analysed as a case study the humanitarian response of the IHO Medair to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti in October 2016. 13 impediments could be identified, whereas the majority experienced in practice is congruent with the ones identified by the literature. Discussions with the emergency response team during, and with process experts after the mapping served to formulate concrete recommendations to address these impediments. The recommendations were categorized with the help of Rosenstiel’s theoretical model conditions of behaviour and three recommendations were then elaborated in detail: Standardised forms, clear lines of communication and modification with explanatory statement. Recommendations and interview results are then translated into a booklet with practical tips to improve information flow in emergency relief operations. The thesis confirms the hypothesis: process improvement advances information flow and increases the efficiency of humanitarian operations. The recommendations to improve IF point at two approaches: technical and behavioural communication skills trainings for staff improve IF and management facilitates IF by inducing change through regulations. The findings are a considerable gain, pointing out specific areas of intervention to improve information flows and thereby efficiency in emergency relief operations. Future research may test the impact of IF on performance, develop the concept of good organisational performance in an IHO and test the influence of the strategic position of logistics within the IHO on performance.
License (according to publishing contract): CC BY-NC-ND 4.0: Attribution - Non commercial - No derivatives 4.0 International
Departement: School of Management and Law
Appears in collections:MSc Business Administration

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