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International Red Cross is governed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which was established in 1863. Its main function is to provide humanitarian support and help especially for those affected by conflict and armed violence. In this way, it creates support and help for those who are victims of the war, and provides a platform for promoting laws that protect these victims. The International Red Cross operates from a mandate that is based upon the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The value it creates for its customers lies in promoting safety, health, and life in the face of dire conflict situations (ICRC, 2010).
Being an international entity, the International Red Cross employs 12,000 people in 80 countries, with its headquarters based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its financial support is provided generally by volunteer donations from official sources such as governments and national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.
The ICRC began with the work of the Swiss, Henry Dunant, at the battle of Solferino (1859). His account of the thousands of wounded French, Austrian, and Italian soldiers who were left without adequate medical care in the book "Am Memory of Solferino" (1862) led to the firs Geneva Convention in 1864. Here, rules were created to protect wounded soldiers and their medical carers. A further rule was also created for the establishment of relief societies for the care of those who were wounded or otherwise victimized by war situations.
The value created for its clients at the time and today therefore lies in the fact that the entity provides life promoting care and protection for those who would otherwise be left to the mercy of powers and conditions beyond their control. The Red Cross Societies bore the universal emblem of medical units, with the red crescent introduced during the 1880s.
In addition to its direct work to alleviate the suffering of victims themselves, the Red Cross has also worked with States in a persuasive capacity to help expand laws towards the legal protection of war victim. In this way, the power of the society to limit suffering is increased, along with the value experienced by its current and future clients.
As the governing body of the national societies, the International Federation, the International Red Cross, and Red Crescent Movement, the ICRC coordinates response efforts when conflict situations arise in countries.
The permanent international mandate under which the work of the International Red Cross function is agreed upon by every State in the world and summarized in the Statutes of the Movement. Despite its international function, the ICRC remains a private organisation under Swiss law. Its operational decisions are independently governed. The Committee members are 25 in number, all of Swiss origin. The fundamental principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence govern all the work conducted by the ICRC.
In terms of structure, There are more than 1,400 specialized staff and general workers on field missions for the ICRC. There are 11,000 local employees who are supported and coordinated by about 800 staff at the Geneva headquarters. The ICRC is an equal opportunities employer that does not discriminate against potential staff member based on ethnic or national origin, or on the basis of any other differentiating factor.
To encourage and acknowledge the work of individual national societies, the ICRC provides special funds and awards. These awards are also provided in case of particular hardship making effective service provision difficult.
The business model is therefore based upon the nature of the International Red Cross as a volunteer, non-profit association, which is supported more or less exclusively by donations from national and international entities. In addition to governments and businesses, the Red Cross also receives donations from members of the public, either in the form of funding or time.
At the basis of its value creation for clients is the ICRC's mission to alleviate human suffering, protect life and health, and uphold human dignity. While this generally occurs during armed conflict, the function of the Red Cross has expanded to also include other types of emergencies such as natural disasters. Millions of volunteers support these efforts.
The e-business model of the International Red Cross supplements its work in the non-electronic environment. Because electronic business is information-focused, the Red Cross online presence is focused upon providing as much information as possible about the Society. In addition to background information, such as its mission, mandate and history, the site also provides various financial documents disclosing the Society's financial functioning, health, and call for donations. The site also provides a large amount of attached documents for those interested in more in-depth information regarding the company's functions in the world.
The "Resources" page offers contact information, archived material, and even a gift shop with items that bear the Red Cross emblem.
The e-business model could therefore be said to be applicable across all forms of businesses. It provides full background information, encourages donations, and offers what it has in terms of promotional items. Furthermore, it provides contact information in the form of telephone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses. The e-business model is therefore integrated with the broader business model of the ICRC, which is focused upon promoting its mission and mandate by means of volunteer efforts and donations.
Braccini, Spagnoletti and D'Atri (n.d.) suggest that participatory action is the general norm in e-business models today. This element is made much more fluid by e-business than by traditional business models. Because it is based up on information rather than physical goods themselves, collaboration is made much easier, faster, and less costly by means of communication. Furthermore, stakeholders in the Red Cross can immediately access the Website for any required information in terms of the application of funding or the need for volunteer work.
For the Red Cross, the e-business model is particularly useful in terms of coordinating its efforts and meeting divergent needs. During the earthquake disaster in Japan, for example, the Red Cross was able to use the Internet to help family members locate and determine the status of loved ones. In this way, the Red Cross uses its e-business model to supplement its work and business model in the "real" world. Many businesses conduct their functions in this way.
The online store Amazon.com is an example, where physical goods are displayed and ordered online and sent to users from a physical location after being ordered. Furthermore, businesses that were established before the arrival of the Internet are now increasingly making use of e-business models to enhance their exposure to existing and potential clients.
According to Trombly (2000), the main aim of an e-business model is to help a company become profitable online. In the case of a non-profit like the Red Cross, however, the case is slightly different. Trombly suggests that portals are a good basis for e-business models, since the industry is primarily driven by information. However, it is also true that online stores such as Amazon.com have attained great success by means of e-business models.
Non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross could benefit greatly from e-business, since it operates on a global scale. Connecting both its clients and workers in this way allows the ICRC to coordinate its events in a much more effective manner.
In addition, there are many other benefits that the Red Cross and other similar companies can gain from its online presence. The e-Business-Guide (2011) lists some of these advantages. One of these is the reach that could be attained at relatively low cost. Office space, office supplies, job expenses, travel, and so on are all expenses that can be spared by maintaining an online presence. Although the ICRC already has most of the above in place at its physical headquarters, the most important advantage of its online presence is the fact of global reach from a single location. Its prominent online presence means that, even if it does have representatives in every country, the offices can attain a much wider reach in terms of relatively remote locations. The Red Cross cannot have a physical office presence in every city in the world, but it can reach every individual with an Internet connection. This is a much wider reach than an office presence could hope to achieve.
A further advantage is the ability of full disclosure. The Internet makes it possible for organizations like the Red Cross to showcase their volunteer work and solicit donations from potential patrons. It also makes many more people aware of the work done by the Red Cross than ever before.
A further benefit of its online presence is that the Red Cross can help many more people in a more concrete way than has ever been possible before. As mentioned above, the Red Cross was able to help worried family members connect with each other by means of the electronic media when Japan was struck by disaster.
By conducting a large amount of its business online, the International Red Cross is able to provide more targeted services to its clients, enlist the help…[continue]
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