Enacting Humanitarian Culture: How Technical Communication Facilitates Successful Humanitarian Work

Purpose: Technical communicators should look beyond for-profit industry to develop a fuller understanding of how technical communication can support, enable, and constitute successful work practices. To illustrate, we report a subset of findings regarding how technical and professional communication supports successful humanitarian work.

Method: We conducted a three-phase longitudinal study of an international humanitarian organization. In Phases 1 and 2, we conducted phone/Skype interviews with 25 practitioners, a group including international, regional, national, and local levels of the organization. In Phase 3, we engaged in ethnographic observation of work practices in six countries and conducted a total of 95 additional interviews (in person) with humanitarian practitioners.

Results: Communication plays an important role in the success of practitioners’ day-to-day work when that communication pursues goals relevant to humanitarian culture, such as showing respect for local ways of operating. Specifically, our findings show that enacting humanitarian culture led practitioners to (a) localize how they speak, (b) collaboratively produce written documents, and (c) encourage bottom-up organizational communication.

Conclusion: We found that while many of our field’s skills and areas of expertise carried over to humanitarian environments, the values and motivations associated with humanitarian culture are what influenced the effective application of these skills and are, therefore, key to the effectiveness of communication. In particular, fine-grained localization and empowerment at the lowest level are central to professional communication that supports successful humanitarian work.

 

Are you sure you want to delete this "resource"?
This item will be deleted immediately. You cannot undo this action.
File Name File Size Download
enacting_humaitarian_culture.pdf 131 KB

Related Resources

Report, Research
29 Apr 2019
Im März 2009 startete das DRK zum ersten Mal ein Forschungsprojekt mit Projektpartnern im Bereich der zivilen Sicherheitsforschung. Dies war der Beginn einer bis heute erfolgreichen Forschungs- und Entwicklungsarbeit. Seit nunmehr zehn Jahren beteil...
Tags: Report, Research, Capacity Building for Disaster Risk Management, Resilience
Report, Research
21 Jul 2015
This reports highlights the findings from a research project conducted by the University of Development Studies, Ghana in response to the ‘Preparedness and Resilience Research’ small grants program (Phase I) implemented by Response 2 Res...
Tags: Report, Research, Resilience
Awareness material, Guidance material
08 May 2020
These documents offer guidance on how to understand prevention methods, the importance of good community engagement, why misinformation and fear can drive people away from living healthy, the key function of hand-washing in minimizing the spread of t...
Tags: Awareness material, Guidance material, Behavior Change, Communication As Aid, COVID-19 (Coronavirus)