DRU: Inter-organizational Decision Making and Organization Design for Improved ICT Coordination in Disaster Relief

Project: Research project

Project Details


Highly complex decision making involving multiple organizations, which have both shared and private interests, pose many challenges in the critical area of disaster relief as well as for organizational scholars. In particular, it is difficult to understand how the structure, distribution of decision rights, and governance of a multi-organization coordination body influences decision making processes and outcomes. Also, systematic assessment of the effects of improved decision making for related activities, such as the provision of goods in a supply chain, presents a significant challenge. This research will address these problems in the context of decision making for information and communication technology (ICT) coordination in humanitarian relief, an area which, as exemplified by the communication failures in the relief effort for hurricane Katrina, requires significant attention. This multi-disciplinary research project integrates software-based intelligent agent research on information sharing and decision making with a study of organization designs that influence information sharing, and analytic assessments of the industry-level performance improvements resulting from improved decision making. The coordination bodies who will participate in this study are the International Working Group for Emergency Capacity Building (IWG ECB), consisting of representatives from the largest international humanitarian relief agencies, including CARE, Oxfam and Save the Children, among others, and HumaniNet, consisting of primarily smaller agencies. Data gathered from these organizations using qualitative methods, will then be used to modify an agent-based architecture to perform sensitivity analyses of the effects of these designs on decision making, generating recommendations for improved designs. Subsequently, the outputs of the simulation will be used in analytic models to predict the effects of decision making improvements on disaster relief supply chain performance. Together, our research on decision making will contribute badly needed knowledge in the critical area of disaster relief, while making fundamental advancements to theories of organization science, artificial intelligence and logistics.

Effective start/end date1/1/078/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $656,000.00
  • National Science Foundation: $656,000.00


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