Theory development in humanitarian logistics: a framework and three cases

Marianne Jahre (Department of Strategy and Logistics, BI Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway)
Leif‐Magnus Jensen (Department of Strategy and Logistics, BI Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway)
Tore Listou (Norwegian Defence Command and Staff College, Oslo, Norway)

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174

Publication date: 2 October 2009



There is a need for theory development within the field of humanitarian logistics to understand logistics needs in different stages of a crisis and how to meet these. This paper aims to discuss three dimensions identified in logistics and organization theories and how they relate to three different cases of humanitarian logistics operations – the regional concept of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, the development and working of the United Nations Joint Logistics Centre and coordination challenges of military logistics in UN mandated peacekeeping operations. The purpose is to build a framework to be used in further studies.


A framework for the study of humanitarian logistics along three dimensions is developed, followed by a discussion of the chosen cases in relation to these dimensions. The framework will be used as basis for the case studies to be undertaken for the purpose of understanding and identification of new questions and needs for other or revised concepts from theory.


The paper shows the relevance of a wide literature to the issues pertinent to humanitarian logistics. There is considerable promise in extant literature on logistics, SCM and coordination, but this needs to be confronted with the particular issues seen in the humanitarian logistics setting to achieve further theory development.


The major contribution of the paper lies in its breadth of theoretical perspectives presented and combined in a preliminary theoretical framework. This is applied more specifically in the three case studies described in the paper.



Jahre, M., Jensen, L. and Listou, T. (2009), "Theory development in humanitarian logistics: a framework and three cases", Management Research News, Vol. 32 No. 11, pp. 1008-1023.

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