Not‐for‐profit supply chains in interrupted environments

Ron McLachlin (Department of Supply Chain Management, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)
Paul D. Larson (Department of Supply Chain Management, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)
Soaleh Khan (Department of Supply Chain Management, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174

Publication date: 2 October 2009



This paper primarily aims to address the following research question: Are techniques and practices developed for uninterrupted, for‐profit supply chains adaptable to the not‐for‐profit (NFP), interrupted context? In other words, can the managerial tools of business logistics be used in humanitarian relief logistics?


A combination of grounded research and case‐based research methods is used. Grounded research methods involve coding interview data to enable constant comparison of the data with emerging categories. Three managerial representatives of a single case organisation, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), are interviewed.


MCC is a small NFP organisation operating in interrupted environments. As a matter of strategy, it pursues economic and social objectives. Strategic partnerships with “like‐minded” organisations are critical to achieve these objectives. To assess its achievements, MCC needs a wide range of performance measures.

Research limitations/implications

Since the paper is based on a single case, it is difficult to generalise the results beyond MCC, a small, faith‐based NFP providing humanitarian assistance. There are future research opportunities to study more cases and search for additional themes.

Practical implications

Partnerships and performance measurement are important elements of supply chain management (SCM) in humanitarian relief, characterised by NFP operations in interrupted environments. SCM tools and techniques created in the for‐profit or business context, for partnership formation (e.g. “how to commit”) and performance measurement (e.g. balanced scorecard), should be adapted for the humanitarian context.


There is a growing literature on supply chain interruptions, but very little research on NFP sector supply chains, despite pressing needs for effective SCM within the NFP context. Also, there are relatively few studies on adapting business logistics practices for the humanitarian logistics context. The paper addresses these issues.



McLachlin, R., Larson, P. and Khan, S. (2009), "Not‐for‐profit supply chains in interrupted environments", Management Research News, Vol. 32 No. 11, pp. 1050-1064.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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