Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research Globalisation Studies Groningen (GSG) Research Groups NOHA Groningen Research

PhD Projects

B.L. Aardema - Leaving without Harm: Exit Strategies by Humanitarian INGOs

The objective of the PhD-research is to facilitate the quality enhancement of transition strategies used by international non-governmental organisations in humanitarian emergency operations by providing a theory and practice assessment of present-day transition-strategies as well as a policy tool for designing appropriate and adequate exit strategies. The leading question for the research is: To what extent is there variation among international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in the incorporation of transition policies into their planning for humanitarian emergency operations and how should the implementation of these transition policies be improved vis-à-vis the conditions in the field? The project is supervised by Prof.dr. Joost Herman and Prof.dr. J.H. de Wilde.

R.R. Bakker - Internationalisation of medical education

Starting in 2013.

C. Eitam - The use of evaluative practices of humanitarian INGO’s for organisational learning

Chamutal Afek-Eitam, a PhD researcher at the University of Groningen is examining the link between organizational learning and evaluative documents (such as post response evaluations, post response reviews and learning documents) in humanitarian INGOs. The study is specifically examining post response evaluative activities to sudden onset natural disasters (earthquakes, floods and storms) between the years 1998-2008.

The research intends to; a. investigate the place of humanitarian assistance INGOs in conventional organization theory and organizational learning theories, b. add to the understanding of humanitarian assistance organizations and c. provide empirical evidence which can assist humanitarian assistance INGOs in better learn from their experiences for improved future performances.

Methodologically, the research includes case studies of three leading INGO. Each INGO case consists of a 10-year worth of evaluation reports accumulating to a total of 88 reports. The reports are all post response evaluations to the INGOs responses to Earthquake, storms, or floods. The analysis of these will be done by means of mixed methods content analysis using ATLAS.ti computer software in a two fold process: 1) Unfold what organizational learning variables exist within the evaluative practices of INGOs. 1.1) Identify which variables act as enablers or disablers for organizational learning within post response evaluative practices. 2) Based on the findings of stage 1. examine the established organizational learning factors in practice by surveying certain organizational learning evidence within evaluative activities.

L. Janssen - Bottom-Up Approaches to Protect Internally Displaced Persons - Internally Displaced Persons´ Coping Mechanisms Intertwined with Top-Down Protection Strategies

J.C. Jones - Prevention, Crime and Punishment: The Specific Deterrent Effect of International Criminal Law in On-going Conflicts

International Criminal Law has developed rapidly since the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Tribunal for Rwanda in the beginning of the 1990s. The jurisdiction of the ICTY has been the topic of much research, but one aspect of the establishment of this institution is of particular interest namely that the tribunal was created after many alleged atrocities were committed, but before hostilities ended completely. This placed the tribunal in a new political context as alleged perpetrators were now faced with a tribunal that could prosecute not only alleged crimes committed in the past, but also crimes committed after the establishment of the tribunal. In other words, in theory a new form of deterrence has been created. Prevention as a goal – or more precisely as an important by-product - of international criminal prosecution has generally referred to general prevention, i.e. a deterrent effect on possible future conflicts. The establishment of the ICTY during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and subsequent developments of international criminal law, such as the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) and Security Council referrals, have added another possible kind of deterrent to International Criminal Law namely specific deterrents during on-going conflicts, i.e. situations in which there are on-going hostilities between the parties.

V. Korff - Careers in humanitarian organizations

(dissertation defended in February 2012)

Supervised by Rafael Wittek, Melinda Mills and Liesbet Heyse, Valeska Korff is conducting PhD research on humanitarian organizations within the framework of the ICS (Interuniversity Center for Social Sciences) at the RUG’s Department for Sociology. Accordingly, her research aims at inquiring humanitarian organizations from a sociological perspective, thereby taking into account not only the structure of the organizations as such, but particularly the specific composition and behavior of their workforce. “Who works in humanitarian organizations?, “Why?”, and “For what ends?” are important questions in this context, as is “Why do employees leave their organizations or even the sector?”. Especially the latter will be of major relevance in the research, since staff turnover not only constitutes an interesting starting point to analyze the relation between staff and organizations, but in fact has been proclaimed a major issue of concern by humanitarian organizations themselves.

C.W.J. de Milliano - Exploring risk & protective factors of adolescent resilience to flooding, in various contexts and cultures

(dissertation defended in December 2012)

The main objective of Cecile de Milliano’s PhD research, which employs a mixed methodology, is to gain an understanding of generic and socio-culturally specific factors that influence youth resilience to flooding. Taking into account, the cultural and contextual sensitivity of resilience, will promote building appropriate cultures of safety and disaster preparedness for youth.

In this research, resilience is seen as multidimensional construct and the research evolves around exploring how youth successfully navigate their way through the tensions and stress caused by flooding, each in their own way (personal/internal level; based on the principle of navigation) and according to the strengths and resources available to the youth through their environment (external level; family; community and culture; based on the principle of negotiation).

However there are also global, as well as culturally and contextually specific aspects to young people’s lives that contribute to resilience. The study therefore draws on case studies from Asia (Indonesia), Africa (Burkina Faso) and Latin America to be able to single out similarities (based on the principle of homogeneity) and diversities between populations and cultures (principle of heterogeneity). This knowledge is of importance to inform (child-centred) disaster risk reduction strategies, which given the increased risks and impacts of climate change, are becoming of fundamental importance and urgency.

The research is supervised by Professor J. de Wilde and Dr. J. Herman of the Department of International Relations and International Organisations.

U.D. Pape - Civil society & HIV/AIDS in Russia

(dissertation defended in March 2012)

Neglected for a long time, HIV/AIDS has developed into a serious social and political problem in Russia. The research projects aims to analyze the role of NGOs in the fight against HIV/AIDS against the background of civil society development in post-Soviet Russia. It will thereby focus on their collaboration with state institutions and their influence on domestic policy making. The political interplay between NGOs and the Russian state is particularly interesting because of the paradoxical predicament of a state that aims, on the one hand, to monitor and control civil society activity and, on the other, a state that needs NGO expertise to effectively address the epidemic. In short, the project will address the following research question: How did international as well as Russian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) respond to the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Russian Federation, and to what extent have they been able to influence domestic HIV/AIDS policy making over the past decade (1996-2007)? From a theoretical perspective, the project builds upon the literature on civil society development in post-Soviet transition. In its analysis on NGO functions the projects relates to the global governance approach by L. Gordenker and T.G. Weiss, according to which private organisations deal with gaining access and seeking influence in a globalizing world.

M.S. Visser - Investing in Employees of Humanitarian Organizations: Waste or Way to Professionalization?

The field of humanitarian organizations has grown tremendously, both in size as in economic volume. These organizations represent an enormous economic force around the world. Demands for better governance and greater accountability have increased significantly. More and more criticism has been expressed towards humanitarian organizations for being inefficient and wasting money. The public and donor organizations were highly indignant about the fact that not all their money was spent directly on the victims. Less attention is paid to the humanitarian organizations and their employees. Is it not for the sake of the victims that their helpers are well-trained professionals who are fully prepared in order to provide appropriate aid in the most remote and violent work contexts? Moreover, for humanitarian organizations to function efficiently the retention of highly qualified employees is essential. One of the questions to be answered is for example: Does investing in training of humanitarian employees lead to more or less organizational turnover? In a broader sense this project will focus on the professionalization of humanitarian employees, their relationship with the organization and the effects on organizational factors like turnover, retention and performance.

Supervisors: Liesbet Heyse (RUG), Rafael Wittek (RUG), Melinda Mills (RUG).

M. Westra - Gender Based Violence, Humanitarian Policy and the Netherlands, A Critical Analysis of the Institutionalisation of Preventive Mechanisms Concerning Gender Based Violence in the Dutch Humanitarian Policy and Their Implementation on the National, Bilateral and Multilateral Level

Supervised by prof. dr.Joost Herman, Monique Westra is conducting PhD research on gender based violence (GBV), humanitarian policy and the Netherlands at the department of International Relations and International Organisation at the University of Groningen. As an advocate of gender mainstreaming and of the prevention of GBV in the context of human rights, International Humanitarian Law and good humanitarian donorship (GHD), and as main protagonist of humanitarianism, the Netherlands has developed a specific and active multi-level national, bilateral and multilateral policy. This policy not only explicitly recognises the special position and role of women but also the complexity of legal aspects pertaining to the issue of violence against women as a violation of human rights and the need for specific national and international legal norms. Furthermore, the Netherlands advocates programmes aimed at awareness raising, education and training and supports nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) that assert human rights, the improvement of the position of women and combat GBV. As in case of violent conflict International Humanitarian Law and human rights tend to be violated, an important strategy in order to promote human rights and to prevent GBV is the active Dutch engagement in conflict prevention, resolution, peace building and in the provision of humanitarian aid. Furthermore, in conformity with the Dutch legalistic mentality and in the context of International Humanitarian Law, the Netherlands regards the punishment of the violation of human rights and atrocities committed in violent conflicts such as GBV of the utmost importance. With regard to such punishment, criminal courts and tribunals are instrumental. The ad hoc international criminal tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) have recognised GBV as a penal act in their jurisdiction and the Rome Statute of 1998 -which established the International Criminal Court (ICC)- condemned GBV in armed conflicts and war, and acts of GBV were defined as crimes against humanity. However, past and present conflicts like in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Sudan testify of the recurrence and atrocities of GBV. These facts are the basis for research on the efficacy of the Dutch national formulation and international implementation of humanitarian policy with regard to GBV in the larger and highly politicised international context.

Last modified:22 June 2016 10.08 a.m.