RUB: Management

Lecture, Seminar
  • Course description

    This course addresses the management of humanitarian organizations, the main other actors involved, and the opportunities and dilemmas for humanitarian action. It also discusses the main critiques of humanitarian management and possible alternatives. The course follows the principle that humanitarian aid should be provided from a long-term perspective - otherwise it can reinforce conflict and exclusion, hamper future access, and neglect the root causes of the complex crises.
  • Main themes

    Context, Concepts and Strategy
    Actors and Organisations: Outside Actors (Donors, UN, NGOs, the Military and Coordination Issues), Local Population, Refugees, IDPs, New Actors
    Cross-Cutting Issues: Local Negotiations, LRRD, Human Resources in Crisis
  • Learning outcomes

    Upon completing this fall course students should:

    1. understand the differences between rhetoric and reality of humanitarian intervention.
    2. possess an overview of the history, issues, dilemmas and actors in humanitarian intervention and the combination of unique factors and recurring issues.
    3. understand the importance of a long-term perspective and local participation in humanitarian intervention.
    4. know how to research, and where to find, relevant information on humanitarian crises, which is necessary to future work in the field.
    5. be able to assess shortcomings of current management approaches to humanitarian affairs, as well as identify conceptual and practical problems.
    6. be able to place the management of humanitarian interventions in the broader context of development cooperation and international politics (see also geopolitics module).
  • Assessment methods and criteria

    Final exam - 100%
  • Required reading

    Required Books:
    Barnett, M. (2011) Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London (for the academic reading class of the introduction week).
    Krause, M. (2014) The Good Project: Humanitarian Relief and the Fragmentation of Reason, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
    Yanacopulos, H., Hanlon, J. (2005) Civil War, Civil Peace, James Currey, Oxford, Ohio University Press, Open University UK, Milton Keynes.
    James, E. (2008) Managing Humanitarian Relief. An Operational Guide for NGOs, Practical Action Publishing, Warwickshire.
    A reader includes all articles and individual book chapters mentioned in this syllabus is on the NOHA-Blackboard. The required books are in the library, or can be bought at and the Schatten Buchhandlung in Uni-Center. It is important to order these books as quickly as possible.
    Required Reading (Web-Resources):
    CHS Alliance (Ed.) (2014) Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability, available at
    Development Initiative (2016) Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2016, pp. 6-7, available at Notice that page numbering of the PDF file differs from actual page numbering of this document!
    Directorate-General for External Policies (2012). Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development: towards More Effective Aid, Brussels, available at
    Harmer, A., Macrae, J., (eds)(2004) Beyond The Continuum: The Changing Role of Aid Policy in Protracted Crises, HPG Report 18, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute, London, (See Notice that page numbering of PDF file differs from actual page numbering of this document! With this document, the easiest thing to do is to print out the whole document.

Last updated: 15 November 2016

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