Coordinating humanitarian information

Andrea H. Tapia (College of Information Sciences and Technology, Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA)
Edgar Maldonado (Metropolitan State College of Denver and Regis University, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Louis‐Marie Ngamassi Tchouakeu (Department of Math, Computer Science and Information Systems, Eberly College of Science and Technology, California University of Pennsylvania, California, Pennsylvania, USA)
Carleen F. Maitland (Office of Cyberinfrastructure, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, USA)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Publication date: 17 August 2012



This paper seeks to examine two humanitarian information coordination bodies. The goals of both coordination bodies are the same, to find mechanisms for multiple organizations, engaged in humanitarian relief, to coordinate efforts around information technology and management. Despite the similarity in goals, each coordination body has taken a different path, one toward defining the problem and solution in a more technical sense and the other as defining the problem and solution as more organizational in nature.


The paper develops case studies of two coordinating bodies using qualitative methodologies.


The data suggest that coordination bodies which pursue problems requiring low levels of organizational change are more likely to have visible successes. Coordination bodies that pursue a more challenging agenda, one that aims for information management or management of information technology in ways that require organizational change, are likely to face greater challenges and experience more failures.

Research limitations/implications

The paper only examines two coordination bodies at one point in time thus claims can not be made about all coordination bodies and all information coordination efforts.


In a time where coordination bodies are seen as an answer to the problem of information sharing during disasters, it is essential to gain understanding concerning the success of these efforts.



Tapia, A., Maldonado, E., Ngamassi Tchouakeu, L. and Maitland, C. (2012), "Coordinating humanitarian information", Information Technology & People, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 240-258.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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