Orchestrating coordination among humanitarian organizations

Lea Ruesch, Murat Tarakci, Maria Besiou*, Niels Van Quaquebeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Disasters mobilize hundreds of organizations, but coordination among them remains a challenge. This is why the United Nations has formed clusters to facilitate information and resource exchange among humanitarian organizations. Yet, coordination failures in prior disasters raise questions as to the effectiveness of the cluster approach in coordinating relief efforts. To better understand barriers to coordination, we developed a grounded theory and augmented the theory with an agent-based simulation. Our theory discerns a cluster lead's roles of facilitating coordination, but also investing in its own ground operations. We find that specifically serving such a dual role impairs swift trust and consequent coordination among cluster members. The additional simulation findings generalize the detrimental effect of the cluster lead's dual role versus a pure facilitator role and specify it against various boundary conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1977-1996
Number of pages20
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number5
Early online date3 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

The authors thank the Department Editor, the Senior Editor, and the three reviewers for their insightful suggestions and comments that significantly improved the study. Furthermore, the authors express their gratitude to Gloria Urrea, Fabian Sting, and Dennis Gioia for their helpful feedback as well as the seminar participants at the Kuehne Logistics University, Rotterdam School of Management, London School of Economics, Bocconi University, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and Technical University of Munich and the study participants for their valuable insights. In addition, the lead author appreciates and thanks the German Academic National Foundation for funding her PhD studies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Production and Operations Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Production and Operations Management Society


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