Patricia Ward, ACOR-CAORC Fellow, Fall 2017

Patricia “Trish” Ward is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at Boston University and an ACOR-CAORC Fellow, Fall 2017. Her research looks at questions related to humanitarian aid, migration management, and labor in contexts considered crisis zones.

Trish Ward 2017, photo courtesy of same.

Trish’s project in Jordan is titled “How Humanitarian Relief Really ‘Works’: Examining International Organizations’ Use of Local Labor in Crisis Contexts.” While international humanitarian relief organizations are traditionally headquartered in European and U.S. cities, they have long relied on the local people living in affected countries to respond to crises and achieve their mandates. In fact, some estimates suggest that “national staff” account for 90 percent of the overall humanitarian aid workforce, and these percentages may figure even more prominently in locations like Jordan where relief work may be a major form of employment.

The rise of so-called “complex emergencies” and protracted humanitarian conflicts in a post-Cold War era, however, is fundamentally changing the role of local labor in humanitarian aid. Organizations are hiring more “national” staff than ever before, including national staff in leadership positions, and partnering with more “local” organizations to implement projects.  Organizations are also moving more offices to the Global South, under what is referred to as “internationalization” or “localization” initiatives. While organization scholars have begun to explore these internationalization movements at the global level from the perspective of the organization (in relation to donor demands, state relationships, and budgetary constraints, to name a few), we do not yet fully know the political, social, and economic implications of these shifts for the local workers themselves nor for the relief projects they are implementing on the ground. It is through her fellowship that Trish Ward will explore these questions and learn more about the daily work routines, recruitment practices, and effects of humanitarian aid work in Jordan.

Patricia “Trish” Ward is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University. She earned her B.A. from American University’s School of International Service and was a 2012 Fulbright Student Scholar in Canada where she studied refugee labor integration as well as Canadian migration scholars’ contributions to the country’s growing immigration policy debate. Trish has also previously worked and conducted research in Jordan where she examined applications of UNHCR’s urban refugee policy in protracted refugee contexts.  To read more or to connect with Trish Ward, visit her university biography at

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