• aid agencies;
  • development aid;
  • humanitarianism;
  • identity;
  • organisational learning;
  • security

Humanitarian and development agencies have confronted growing insecurity in some of the regions in which they work over the course of the past decade. Consequently, aid agencies are changing their approach to security issues. Compared to aid agencies from other countries, especially the United Kingdom and the United States, German aid agencies have been relatively slow to adopt security measures. In addition, the security measures they have selected differ from one agency to another, even in comparable security contexts. The literature on organisational learning helps to explain these differences. The findings show that external and internal organisational factors influence an aid agency's choice of a particular security measure. The different responses of German aid agencies to the changing security environment demonstrate that security measures are not only influenced by an organisation's identity but also can be a way for them to demonstrate their identity and thereby distinguish themselves from other actors that deliver aid.