MSF Alessandro Penso, 2016

Beyond the theoretical analysis of concepts (see chapter conceptualize), the research will also include field-based analyses of how concepts are operationalized by humanitarian actors. Based on the results of the descriptive analysis of concepts, case studies will be selected in partnership with humanitarian actors to explore how historical, organizational, cultural and disciplinary factors combine to lead to the existence of diverging conceptions of humanitarianism and trigger misunderstanding and misperception among humanitarian actors.

While the methodology for these empirical studies will be defined in the coming months with academic and humanitarian partners, some preliminary suggestions are:

– Case studies could be developed in several operational contexts involving academics, national and international operational stakeholders as well as policy makers and representatives of  affected population.

– A case study could focus on the analysis of a pair/group of key concepts, which could be articulated concepts (e.g. participation and accountability) or concepts potentially or apparently in tension (e.g. needs-based vs rights-based approach). The case study  would examine issues related to the operationalization of concepts, identify potential challenges and dilemmas,  and explore potential ways to address these tensions.