Coordinating humanitarian information: The problem of organizational and technical trajectories

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This paper seeks to examine two humanitarian information coordination bodies. The goals of both coordination bodies are the same, to find mechanisms for multiple organizations, engaged in humanitarian relief, to coordinate efforts around information technology and management. Despite the similarity in goals, each coordination body has taken a different path, one toward defining the problem and solution in a more technical sense and the other as defining the problem and solution as more organizational in nature. The paper develops case studies of two coordinating bodies using qualitative methodologies. The data suggest that coordination bodies which pursue problems requiring low levels of organizational change are more likely to have visible successes. Coordination bodies that pursue a more challenging agenda, one that aims for information management or management of information technology in ways that require organizational change, are likely to face greater challenges and experience more failures. The paper only examines two coordination bodies at one point in time thus claims can not be made about all coordination bodies and all information coordination efforts. In a time where coordination bodies are seen as an answer to the problem of information sharing during disasters, it is essential to gain understanding concerning the success of these efforts. © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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