Social Media in Humanitarian Operations: A Theory of Unintended Consequences

Past event — 25 April 2019

Kühne Logistics University
Grosser Grasbrook 17, 20457 Hamburg, Room EE Lecture 1

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Prof. Mohammad Moshtari

Assistant Professor in Supply Chain Management

Tampere University of Technology


The role of social media in humanitarian operations is the topic of an increasing number of studies. Existing research suggests that social media assists humanitarian actors in their internal and external communication, as well as their operational tasks such as fundraising or needs assessment. We used the theory of unintended consequences to understand the social media risks, its associated practices and behaviors, which develop from the use of social media, and finally their negative operational implications on the performance of humanitarian response. We applied a mixed-method approach by collecting and analyzing qualitative and secondary data on the 2017 Kermanshah Earthquake, and then explaining the dynamic relationships among social media risks and their operational implications via causal loop diagrams (system dynamics). We finish the study by formulating corresponding propositions and offering a number of managerial implications for practitioners and policy makers.


Mohammad Moshtari is an assistant professor in supply chain management at Tampere University since 2017. Mohammad completed his PhD program at the Università della Svizzera italiana (University of Lugano) in Switzerland, and was a Swiss National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellow between 2014-2016. His research area relates to supply chain management, innovation, disaster management, and operations in emerging markets. His research appears in peer-review international journals like Production and Operations Management, European Journal of Operational Research, and International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.

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Birgit Kappert

Program Manager