Tragic choices in humanitarian aid: A framework of organizational determinants of NGO decision making

Heyse, L.
Date published
01 Jan 2013
Leadership and Decisionmaking, NGOs

Humanitarian NGOs face difficult choices about whom to help and whom not on a daily basis. The research question in this article is how humanitarian NGOs make these difficult decisions and why in a particular way. March’s study on consequential and appropriate decision-making processes is used to analyze the nature and course of NGO decision making. Since March’s two models are often explicitly or implicitly linked to certain types of organizational settings—as reflected in an organization’s formal structure, compliance and coordination mechanisms—this article particularly zooms in on the relationship between NGO decision-making processes and these settings. The theoretical framework is illustrated and discussed by means of an exploratory comparative case study of two international humanitarian NGOs: Medicins Sans Frontieres Holland (MSF Holland) and Acting with Churches Netherlands (ACT Netherlands).