This paper introduces a framework for a systematic analysis of the comparative advantages of various types of emergency responders. Our hypothesis is that one can define and then test comparative advantages across categories of actors and that a policy-making framework can help prepare better disaster responses in the future. We present an analytic framework that categorizes NGOs, governments, militaries and private responders at various levels. This initial theoretical framework provides a structure to begin to analyze comparative advantage. It suggests that there might be better combinations and sequences of responders in given situations. With the basic theory set forth, the framework is tested against data from two cases: 1) the disaster response following the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka and 2) the response in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Ultimately, this work is intended to inspire other researchers interested in questions of disaster response to employ this methodology to develop and publish cases as well, creating a body of analysis that could then be further refined into policy recommendations to improve humanitarian emergency efforts.
This publication is Hauser Center Working Paper No. 38. The Hauser Center Working Paper Series was launched during the summer of 2000. The Series enables the Hauser Center to share with a broad audience important works-in-progress written by Hauser Center scholars and researchers.