Zena Mouawad

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PhD Student

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Ruhr-University Bochum
Universitätsstr. 105
D-44789 Bochum


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Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

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Research Project

Coordination in the United Nations system: Organizational challenges in inter-organizational relations

This research aims at examining coordination of the United Nations development system from a multi-disciplinary perspective to international organisations. In a context of policy silos and fragmented development cooperation, it is a challenge for organisations to coordinate their work and promote policy coherence. A number of United Nations specialized agencies hold coordination roles in the field, while still preserving organizational set ups designed to address their mandates, not realistically streamlining coordination in their social tasks. Nevertheless, they constantly undertake leadership roles to mainstream their mandate through inter-organizational relations. Drawing from existing theoretical approaches, this research observes the different formal and informal relationships UN agencies engage and describe coordinators´ challenges in inter-organizational relations. It looks at settings not commonly explored by scholars, drawing empirical insights in a UN reform and sustainable development goals momentum. The main research question is: How do formal and informal forms of coordination favour cooperation in development cooperation programmes? In which conditions changes towards improved coordination occur?

The analysis will build on a multi-level analysis of intra- and inter-organization relationships, through ethnography and process-tracing methods.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dennis Dijkzeul and Prof. Dr. Christof Hartmann

Research Interest

  • International organizations and inter-organizational relations theory;
  • Post-development theory;
  • Global governance and transnational studies;
  • Ethnography;
  • Qualitative methods;
  • Complexity and multi-level analysis;
  • The humanitarian-development nexus and the SDGs;


2015 ‑ present:   Knowledge Management and Community of Practice Facilitator - UN Volunteer and Consultant - various positions
2017 ‑ 2018:   Junior Research Officer at the International Labour Organization - Geneva, Switzerland
2016:   Research Intern of the Bi- and Multilateral Cooperation Department at the German Development Institute (DIE) - Bonn, Germany
2016:   MA in Development and Governance, Duisburg-Essen University - Duisburg, Germany
2016:   Summer School in Development Policy, Bonn University - Bonn, Germany
2016:   Research Intern at Käte Hamburger Kolleg - Centre for Global Cooperation Research - Duisburg-Essen University - Duisburg, Germany
2013 - 2015:   Project Analyst at the UNDP International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) - Brasília, Brazil
2012:   MBA in Project Management, ESAD Escola de Administracao e Negócios - Brasília, Brazil
2008 ‑ 2012:   United Nations in Brazil - various positions
2006:   Bachelors Diplom in International Relations, UNICURITIBA - Curitiba, Brazil


2015 ‑ 2016:   DAAD Public Policy and Good Governance Masters Scholarships Programme - Helmut Schmidt