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Title: Mercenaries, missionaries and misfits : competition in the 'aid marketplace' in Afghanistan
Author: Willner-Reid, Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 5181
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Both practitioners and academics have recently begun referring to humanitarian agencies operating within an active 'aid marketplace' in which limited funding pits actors against each other in pursuance of their own projects and wider aims. This thesis seeks to explore how the pressures of a competitive environment impact on the motivations and actions of aid actors at an individual and organizational level. Based on the common saying that aid workers are 'mercenaries, missionaries and misfits', I construct a typology of pressures (interest-based, altruistic, and bureaucratic), which, it is argued, can be used to explain and understand much of this competitive and collaborative behaviour. A particular focus of the thesis is the impact of these various influences on the process and politics of information transfer and discourse creation regarding the process of needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation. I explore all of these issues through the medium of a case study of UNHCR's interventions in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2015, and seek to provide a detailed history of the agency's activities, politics and challenges during this period. In particular I am interested in the motivations driving the agency's actions; the strategies it has employed to achieve its aims; the calculated narratives that it has crafted to justify its interventions and attract greater support; and the very different ways in which it has approached the needs of different categories of displaced people.
Supervisor: Chatty, Dawn Sponsor: Wiener Anspach Foundation Grant
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ; Afghanistan ; International Development ; UNHCR ; Returnees ; Refugees ; Humanitarian Aid ; Reintegration ; Aid Marketplace