Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Alan D. Poling

Second Advisor

Dr. Ron van Houten

Third Advisor

Dr. Heather McGee

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Steven Ragotzy


Non-profit, organizational behavior management, salmonella, cricetomys, East Africa


The combination of a slowly recovering global economy, increased corporate competition, and higher standards from donors with respect to governance and accountably have posed significant challenges for nonprofit organizations around the world. In order to survive, these organizations must adapt their operational models and find new strategies for delivering on strategic goals, improving operational efficiency, and differentiating their services. The purpose of the present project was to employ behavioral techniques to improve operational efficiency and to develop opportunities for organizational growth by expanding the range of services provided by a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in East Africa that uses scent-detection rats for humanitarian purposes. The project comprised three experiments. In the first experiment, a package intervention involving a job aid and feedback training was developed to improve the performance of staff in evaluating and conducting animal training sessions. Results suggested that both supervisor and staff performance improved as a result of the package intervention. Moreover, the intervention appeared to be sustainable and cost-effective. In the second and third experiments, two new applications of scent-detection rats were systematically evaluated. Results of these two studies provide proof-of-principle with respect to the rats’ ability to find people and to detect salmonella bacteria in horse feces. Although challenging, the present project was successfully completed and demonstrates that the same general strategies used to benefit other kinds of organizations can be of value to NGOs operating in resource-poor and culturally diverse areas.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access