Aid effectiveness in a network perspective

Pernille Jespersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis takes off-set in the current debate within aid effectiveness that focuses on linking relief and resilience building activities to make resources stretch further and impact last longer. A key element in this process concerns the ability of actors to coordinate their activities to intertwine the humanitarian and development component of aid. For this to be successful and aid to become more effective, it implies a need for interaction across a large number of involved actors. On the basis hereof, this thesis applies a network perspective on aid effectiveness by studying coordination structures. Due to the recentness that allows a study of contemporary circumstances, the analysis focuses on the international aid community’s response to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan. In order to reach more general claims about coordination of aid activities, I refrain from engaging in discussions of the politics of the Middle East and the much debated governance structure of the United Nations. The thesis provides a twofold analysis combining quantitative and qualitative method. Firstly, I conduct two quantitative social network analyses that focus on large networks of actors that are active within aid provision in Jordan. One investigates funding patterns and illustrates a complex network of many small and medium sized donors and recipients as well as a few large and central. The other network analysis investigates direct interaction between organizations present in Jordan during 70 working group meetings taking place throughout 2014. The qualitative actor-network analysis examines a group of selected actors and considers the role and influence of a number of specific non-human actors. Based on the quantitative and qualitative analyses and a discussion of the findings, I propose three concluding remarks concerning how coordination of aid activities are structured in light on the broader debate on aid effectiveness. Firstly, I find that the largest and most central recipient of funds in the crises is also the most central actor measured according to direct interactions with others. Secondly, I find that coordination of aid activities is not structured to realize its potential to the fullest due to indications that relief and resilience are not fully conjoined in reality. Thirdly, this thesis finds evidence that aid activities are coordinated around central non-human actors that have the potential to strengthen the coordination structure and make aid more effective. Based hereon I invite future research to more frequently consider the role that these play in order to more accurately assess the investigated activity or phenomenon.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages137