October 30, 2007

Book Review - Choosing the Lesser Evil

Choosing the Lesser Evil: Understanding Decision Making in Humanitarian Aid NGOs
Liesbet Heyse
HV 553 .H49 2006

Heyse hopes to shed some light on the processes that non-Governmental organizations with humanitarian aid missions use. Her work is structured around two case studies: one organization which uses a medical perspective to providing humanitarian aid, and a second organization which has religious leanings and motivations behind its aid mission. Heyse begins with an overview of how the two organizations differently prioritize the aid missions that they select to become involved with. She puts forward several theoretical models of organizational decision-making and behavior, placing these broadly in the context of NGOs. She then examines both organizations in turn, teasing out their decision-making processes, work patterns, and organizational priorities. Finally, she compares the organizations directly, determining how they exemplify the theoretical models posited at the outset. This book may help to understand the sometimes competing priorities of NGOs and why outcomes of humanitarian aid and peacekeeping efforts may not measure up to organizational intentions.