Dr. Friedrich Jungheinrich Foundation Honors Dr. Mojtaba Salem

Dr. Mojtaba Salem has received the Dr. Friedrich Jungheinrich Prize for his three-part dissertation on the impact of leadership styles and behaviors on the successful performance of humanitarian aid operations. Dr. Salem accepted the prize, which is endowed with 1,000 euros, at the graduation ceremony on September 11.

"I feel honored and very pleased about this recognition, because my research domain is relatively new and interdisciplinary and, for the first time worldwide, it combines two fields of research that have so far only been considered separately, namely leadership and humanitarian operations management," said Dr. Salem.

The “People Factor” in Humanitarian Operations

There is growing pressure to use funds for humanitarian operations more effectively and efficiently. The background to this is that there are regularly too few resources available in the face of increasing disasters. So far, scientific literature has dealt with this topic primarily by solving operation management and logistics optimization models, while Dr. Salem is the first to emphasize “the people factor” in humanitarian operations; that is, to empirically investigate the relevance of behavioral leadership theories and as a result derive practical recommendations based on field data.

Andreas Jansen, Chairman of the Management Board of the Dr. Friedrich Jungheinrich Foundation stated, “It is a matter close to our hearts to honor excellent scientists for their special achievements. We congratulate Dr. Salem most warmly on the successful completion of his doctoral thesis and are delighted to be able to award him with this prize. He has dedicated himself with great commitment to a socially very important topic.”

Research with Impact on the Practice

The jury praised the work as an "exceptionally excellent research work in all dimensions” with an “extensive impact on the practice of humanitarian professionals in the field.” It also highlighted that the research had led to very high-quality publications in leading specialist journals and recognized practitioner journals within a relatively short period of time. This was in part due to how efficiently it was conducted but also to how enthusiastically it was received. The work was supervised by Prof. Maria Besiou (Humanitarian Logistics) and Prof. Niels Van Quaquebeke (Leadership and Organizational Behavior).

After studying in Afghanistan and obtaining merit-based KLU and DAAD scholarships to study in Germany, Dr. Salem completed his Master of Science in Management at KLU before he began his doctoral studies. At the same time, he co-founded the Research Institute on Leadership and Operations in Humanitarian Aid (RILOHA) at KLU. In fall, the alumnus will move to the Technical University of Munich.

More information:

Publications in the context of the dissertation:

  • Salem, M., Van Quaquebeke, N., Besiou, M. and Meyer, L., 2019. Intergroup leadership: how leaders can enhance performance of humanitarian operations. Production and Operations Management, 28(11), pp.2877-2897. https://doi.org/10.1111/poms.13085
  • Salem, M., Van Quaquebeke, N. and Besiou, M., 2018. How field office leaders drive learning and creativity in humanitarian aid: Exploring the role of boundary‐spanning leadership for expatriate and local aid worker collaboration. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 39(5), pp.594-611. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.2246