مدیریت چالش های فرهنگی برای کمک های موثر بشردوستانه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|11803||2012||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 139, Issue 2, October 2012, Pages 366–376
This paper focuses on the management of cultural conflicts that arise during the provision of humanitarian aid (HA). In particular, we study the cultural conflicts in the HA relationship between those delivering HA and the beneficiaries, and we examine how those delivering HA manage these conflicts. By drawing upon structuration theory, we conceptualise culture as consisting of three dimensions – systems of meaning, norms of behaviours, and power relations. We then develop a process model that shows the interactions between the HA organisation and the local community beneficiary of the aid and that shows how these interactions are mediated by culture. We illustrate the model with a case study that analyses the intervention of a non-governmental organisation during an outbreak of cholera in Mozambique in 2008. The case shows how the non-governmental organisation reflexively monitored its actions and consequences, creating a basis for adaptation and change in its practices. Furthermore, the case shows that culture is not immutable but dynamic – being constantly produced and reproduced during HA operations. From the results of the case study, we formulate some theoretical propositions that may guide further research in this area.
An increasing number of humanitarian emergencies with a growing range of complexity are putting pressure on agencies to deliver humanitarian aid (HA) in the most appropriate and cost-effective way (HPG, 2005, Roh et al., 2008 and EU). In the last decade, in the international humanitarian sector, various agencies from the United Nations and the World Bank as well as non-governmental organisations have started initiatives – for instance, the Sphere Project – that aim to improve the quality of humanitarian response, to enhance the accountability of agencies to affected communities, and ultimately to improve the effectiveness of aid (Sphere, 2011). These initiatives usually identify a set of standards that represent sector-wide consensus on best practices in humanitarian response. A common feature of these best practices is that aid agencies must consider, respect, and support the different humanitarian socio-cultural contexts and adapt their response programmes accordingly. Therefore, identifying the culturally appropriate practices for a given humanitarian response is a key concern for policy makers and managers of aid organisations. Despite this practical recognition of the need for aid practices to fit with the cultural context of beneficiaries, research on HA in the field of operations management has not paid attention to this issue. Prior research literature has shown that cultural differences impact the effectiveness of aid by influencing the coordination of the operations (Van Wassenhove, 2006, Pettit and Beresford, 2009, Balcik et al., 2010 and Dowty and Wallace, 2010). Yet these studies mainly focus on the cultural differences between the organisations delivering aid at the expense of the cultural differences between those delivering HA and the beneficiaries. Let us take, as an example, the HA project of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Somalia when a severe cholera epidemic began in February 1994 (Cañas, 2008) to illustrate how cultural differences between HA agencies and beneficiaries can be a source of disruption to humanitarian operations. The intervention of MSF was mainly driven by the objective to control and avoid the spread of the epidemic. Accordingly, MSF created a centre for the treatment of cholera, gave advice to the health authorities, and performed ‘safe’ burials. This entailed minimising contact with corpses and maximising the hygienic and precautionary measures. The performance of ‘safe’ burials was a measure that created a major confrontation with the local community. The traditional burial ritual in the local community involved the participation of many people who were in contact with the corpse. These two facts made the ritual an important focus for the spread of the epidemic. Thinking in terms of operational effectiveness, that is, reducing the risk of the epidemic spreading, MSF determined it was best to remove the infected corpses and bury them without ritual. This action resulted in violence against MSF personnel and led the local community to abandon the use of the cholera epidemic centre. That is, an action designed according to effective operational parameters proved fruitless and ineffective due to clashes between the local culture and the intervention from aid workers. One of the first reactions of MSF's workers was to inform and educate the local community about how epidemics spread. MSF's workers also allowed the local community to perform their burial ceremonies with some precautionary measures to reduce the risk of contagion. This example shows how a failure to pay attention to the local cultural systems reduced the effectiveness of the humanitarian response to the cholera epidemic in Somalia. In this respect, the goal of this paper is to develop a framework that enhances our understanding of (1) how cultural differences between HA agencies and beneficiaries lead to conflict, (2) how these conflicts impact the effectiveness of HA operations, and (3) how the HA agencies manage these cultural conflicts. By drawing upon structuration theory (Giddens, 1984), we develop a conceptualisation of culture (Walsham, 2002) and build a theoretical model to study the management of cultural conflicts that arise between organisations delivering HA and local community beneficiaries. We will illustrate the theoretical model with a case study of the non-governmental organisation Intermón Oxfam during an outbreak of cholera in Mozambique in 2008. Our study makes several contributions to research and practice. First, in the field of HA operations, we present a process-based study that conceives humanitarian operations as involving dialectical tensions due to cultural differences between those delivering aid and the beneficiaries. The case study shows that an aid organisation can manage cultural conflicts by intervening on the beneficiaries' cultural milieu as well as on its own cultural assumptions and, by doing so, preserve the effectiveness of HA operations. Some studies have pointed out the effect of culture on humanitarian operations (Van Wassenhove, 2006, Pettit and Beresford, 2009, Balcik et al., 2010 and Dowty and Wallace, 2010). Their focus, however, has been on the interactions between different organisations delivering HA. Our study analyses the interactions between those delivering HA and the beneficiaries. Second, we focus our study on Africa, which experiences some of the harshest living conditions in the world. Focusing on Africa, we try to cover the research gap identified by Kovács and Spens (2009, p. 522). “So far, studies covering the field have very much focused on Asia. Considering the impact of the regional context on the effects of a disaster, studies on other continents and also other disaster types has been called for”. Third, we contribute to the field of operations management and supply chain management by analysing the HA operations through the lens of structuration theory. Despite calls for the use of structuration theory in the field (Lewis and Suchan, 2003), it has seen little theoretical and empirical application (e.g., Holweg and Pil, 2008). Using this theoretical lens, we contribute to extending the epistemological base of the operations management field. Finally, this paper contributes to practice by emphasising that although existing knowledge about the local cultural context that is embedded in the best practices can inform agencies in the planning stage, humanitarian responses also require an element of experimentation and learning. A cultural lens brings out this need for constant monitoring and adaptation of aid actions. The paper is structured as follows. We begin by reviewing how prior literature on HA has dealt with culture to identify those salient issues that have not been addressed. Then, we present the theoretical concepts we draw on in the paper and develop a theoretical model. The case analysis follows with the presentation of the results. Next, we discuss the findings of the case. The paper ends with some contributions and lines for further research.