Former KLU Ph.D. Mojtaba Salem receives Honorary Mention from HUMLOG Institute

Dr. Mojtaba Salem, former Ph.D. candidate at KLU, has received the Honorary Mention from the HUMLOG Institute at Hanken School of Economics (Finland). The recognition, which is awarded every two years, honors the best theses in Humanitarian Logistics. Prof. Maria Besiou, KLU’s Dean of Research, and Prof. Niels Van Quaquebeke were supervisors of Mojtaba Salem’s thesis on “Leadership Issues in Humanitarian Operations.”

Humanitarian operations are increasingly under pressure to use their funds more effectively and efficiently, as often times there are too few resources available in the face of increasing disasters. Up until now, research has mostly looked at this topic regarding the solving of operation management and logistics optimization models. Dr. Salem was the first to empirically investigate the relevance of behavioral leadership theories and as a result derive practical recommendations based on field data. "While it is a great honor to be personally recognized, I feel very excited for the promising future of investigating the “people factor” in the context of humanitarian operations management”, says Mojtaba Salem. Prof. Maria Besiou added: “This award reflects not only the excellent work of Mojtaba but also of the KLU PhD program along with that of KLU professors’ on innovative and interdisciplinary topics.”

Great Potential for Future Research

Together with Prof. Maria Besiou and Prof. Niels van Quaquebeke, the dissertation led to publications in high-ranking international journals, including “Journal of Organizaitonal Behavior” and “Production and Operations Management,” where the study was among the most downloaded online publications between January 2018 and December 2019. It specifically looked at how leaders may enhance performance of humanitarian operations, taking in data from 125 humanitarian workers. For further analyses, the study builds on operations management and organizational behavior literature.

“The “Honorary Mention” by HUMLOG clearly shows that the interdisciplinary research, is no longer a peripheral topic but an increasingly a central research theme in the humanitarian operations community. This gives me a huge motivation in my current projects as I investigate how identity, emotion, and personality of field-level leaders and decision makers improve operational outcomes”, says Salem.

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. Since October 2020, he is working as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Technical University of Munich.  

More information: