MG460      Half Unit
Emergencies Management: Humanitarian Intervention and Digital Innovation

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Shirin Madon NAB 3.36/ CON 3.09 and Dr Francesco Gualdi NAB 3.20


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, 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

Globally, the world is dealing with an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises such as natural disasters, armed conflict, forced displacement and major disease outbreaks such as Covid-19.

The course is anchored on two main observations:

First, over the past few decades humanitarian emergencies have been increasing in number and duration with the most devastating and long-lasting socio-economic effects in countries with weak physical and institutional infrastructures. Information and communication technologies have opened up 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 critically examine the potential opened by ICT innovation for managing crises.

Second, the course will connect core concepts and perspectives from humanitarian emergency literature to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis that the world is currently experiencing as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.  At the global level, we will review and evaluate global networks and their value, while at the level of national economies and organisations we will study country strategies put in place to deal with the crisis. At all levels, digital innovations and technologies have become an absolute lifeline at different stages of the disaster management life cycle. As the Covid-19 crisis shows, the contribution from ICTs adoption needs to be carefully assessed in order to account for the economic, social and democratic challenges it might create.

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

• humanitarian emergencies management and coordination structures for effective mitigation, preparedness and response

• emergency logistics and supply chain management

• ICT innovation and the development of organizational capacity for effective emergency action

• the link between episodic emergencies and long-term development in low-and-middle income countries

• managing pandemics through recent experiences


15 hours of lectures and 15 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.

Students will receive formative comments on both the group project and their individual essays. 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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

Robbins, T. et al. (2020) COVID-19: A new digital dawn?  Digital Health, 6, pp. 1-3.

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.

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


Project (30%, 5000 words), essay (55%, 3000 words) and class participation (15%) in the LT.

Group Project (30%, 25-30 pages) – this will relate to aspects of crisis management during the Covid-19 crisis

Individual essay (55%, 3000 words) – enabling students to explore available literature on a topic related to the course

Class participation (15%)

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2020/21: 35

Average class size 2020/21: 13

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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