Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Susan Peterson

Committee Members

Michael Tierney

Alison Scott


This thesis explores explanations for why the WHO and its Member States responded differently in each of the two cases. The epidemiology, securitization, and organizational theory literatures suggest three primary answers to these questions. I have used these literatures to formulate three explanations through which to examine each case. I assess the Ebola and Zika cases along two dependent variables: time from the start of the outbreak to the WHO and Member States’ response, and the amount of financial and human resources allocated to the response. The epidemiological explanation focuses on the lethality and transmissibility of each virus. In this explanation I examine whether a more lethal and easily transmissible virus results in a faster response that garners greater amounts of financial and human resources. Second, the securitization explanation examines whether the framing of each case as a security threat (or not) results in greater amounts of financial and human resources, even if such a process of securitizing disease occurs slowly. Finally, in the organizational structure explanation I examine the WHO’s decentralized structure and budgetary mechanisms to determine whether or not greater decentralization and voluntary contribution mechanisms in the WHO’s budget contribute to a slower response that sees fewer resources allocated to it.

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