Crossing Borders, Organizations, Levels, and Technologies: IS Collaboration in Humanitarian Relief

Andrea H. Tapia, Louis-Marie Ngamassi Tchouakeu, Edgar Maldonado, Carleen F. Maitland


In this article, we present a preliminary analysis of four case studies of collaborative information systems (IS) projects initiated by two collaboration bodies within the humanitarian action sector. Collaboration bodies are groups of organizations brought together with the purpose of improving collaboration of their activities. Our goal is to theoretically explore collaborative IS projects as a “gateway” to collaboration among large, international humanitarian organizations. Our findings suggest that: 1) hierarchical relations help overcome technical barriers to collaboration; 2) collaborative IS projects that funnel resources from higher to lower levels of the hierarchy will likely have to deal with the implications of multilevel governance; and 3) collaboration efforts at higher levels of the organizational hierarchy may facilitate collaboration at lower levels, improving collaboration with partners at multiple organizational levels.

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