Improving the Hiring of National Staff in High Management Positions in Humanitarian Operations

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Aqeel Tirmizi


This capstone paper examines the reasons why very few national staff are hired in higher management positions in humanitarian operations. Using case study methodology with four non-government organizations (NGOs) active in the humanitarian assistance sector, the goal was to answer the question: “In humanitarian assistance operations what are the barriers and facilitators that either hinder or help national staff to assume higher management positions?” The main findings from the case studies demonstrated that overall there is commitment in the humanitarian assistance sector to improve the number of national staff in higher management positions, i.e., some progress has been made. However, systems for monitoring progress—for example, statistics about national staff in higher management positions—do not exist. Furthermore, there is a problem of educational equivalence, such as inadequate writing and computer skills, which stops NGOs from putting national staff in higher positions where regular report and grant writing is required. The results also indicate that— in the forseeable future— national staff will not be put into top management postitions, like a country director or financial director position, which require representation and overall financial responsibilities. Practically, steps must be taken on issues that can realistically be addressed, and which build upon progress already made, including addressing educational equivalence through career planning and by implementing monitoring and evaluation techniques. Finally, new steps should be taken to challenge organizational and intercultural barriers that negatively affect national staff assuming higher management positions.


Human Resources Management | International and Intercultural Communication

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