MG460      Half Unit
Handling Disruption: Humanitarian Emergencies Management and Development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Francesco Gualdi NAB 3.20 and Dr Shirin Madon NAB 3.36


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MiM), Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MBA Exchange, MRes/PhD in Management (Information Systems and Innovation), MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Management (1 Year Programme), MSc in Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation and MSc in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course content is anchored on two observations: First, disasters and humanitarian emergencies are most frequent and most challenging and have the most devastating and long lasting socio-economic effects in poor counties with weak physical and institutional infrastructures. Therefore the course studies the management of emergency interventions in the broader context of socio-economic development. Second, information and communication technology (ICT) continues to open new possibilities for the mitigation, preparedness and response to disasters, but its effective use requires change in the collaboration of humanitarian organisations and affected communities. In this course we will examine critically the potential opened by ICT innovation for the handling of disruptions.

More specifically, the course will cover the following thematic areas:

a) The challenge of humanitarian emergencies and our capacity to address it: the link of episodic emergencies and long term development; ICT innovation and the development of organisational capabilities for effective emergency action.

b) Managing emergencies: emergency logistics and supply chains; ICT innovations in humanitarian emergencies and information systems infrastructures to address mitigation, preparedness and response. Case studies and readings will examine emerging topics such as crowdsourcing and geographic and geodetic intelligence.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

The formative essay is intended to help students explore available literature on the topic of their summative essay and give them feedback on how to proceed.

Indicative reading

Meier, P. Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response Taylor & Francis, New York, 2015.

Boin, A., and McConnell, A. 2007. "Preparing for Critical Infrastructure Breakdowns: The Limits of Crisis Management and the Need for Resilience," Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management (15:1), pp. 50-59.

Donini, A. and Maxwell, D. (2013) From Face-to-Face to Face-to-Screen: Remote management, effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian action in insecure environments, International Review of the Red Cross, 95, 890, pp. 383-413.

Barnett, M. "Humanitarian Governance" Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. (16) 2013, pp. 379-398.

Boin, A., and Kelle, P. "Resilient supply chains for extreme situations: outlining a new field of study" International Journal of Production Economics (126:1) 2010, pp. 1-6.

Diaz Adrade, A., and Doolin, B. 2016. "Information and Communication Technology and the Social Inclusion of Refugees," MIS Quarterly (40:2), pp. 405-416.

Nan, N., and Lu, Y. 2014. "Harnessing the Power of Self-Organization in an Online Community During Organizational Crisis," MIS Quarterly (38:4), pp. 1135-1157.

Schaub, M. L. 2012. "Lines across the Desert: Mobile Phone Use and Mobility in the Context of Trans-Saharan Migration," Information Technology for Development (18:2), pp. 126-144.

IFRC (2013) World Disasters Report – Focus on Technology and the Future of Humanitarian Action, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Day, J.M., Junglas, I., Silva, L. (2009) Information low impediments in disaster relief supply chains, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10, 8, pp 637-660

Nowell, B., and Steelman, T. "Communication under fire: the role of embeddedness in the emergence and efficacy of disaster response communication networks" Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 2014.

Majchrzak, A., Jarvenpaa, S.L., Hollingshead, A.B. “Coordinating expertise among emergent groups responding to disasters” Organization Science 2007, 18(1) pp. 147-161

Weick, K.E. "The collapse of sensemaking in organizations: the Mann Gulsh Disaster" Administrative Science Quarterly (38) 1993, pp. 628-652.

Manyena, S.B. “Disaster and Development Paradigms: Too close for comfort?” Development Policy Review, 30, 3, 2012, pp. 327-345.

Madianou, M. et al. “Finding a Voice Through Humanitarian Technologies?  Communication technologies and participation in disaster recovery”, International Journal of Communication, 9, 2015, pp. 3020-3038.


Project (30%, 5000 words), essay (60%, 3000 words) and class participation (10%) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2018/19: 32

Average class size 2018/19: 10

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication