Transforming humanitarian logistics: the journey to supply network management

Peter H. Tatham (Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Stephen J. Pettit (Logistics and Operations Management Section, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Publication date: 7 September 2010



The purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction of the two parts of the Special Edition of the journal devoted to the challenges of humanitarian aid logistics. To achieve this, an overview of the humanitarian logistic field is provided focussing on a number of key areas in which the principles and practices supporting commercial supply network management (SNM) have the potential to offer significant improvement in the efficiency and/or effectiveness of the humanitarian logistics preparation and response.


The paper is based on a conceptual discussion of issues of SNM in a humanitarian aid context, linked to the more specific discussions of the contribution of the research presented by the authors of the papers accepted for the special editions.


The paper discusses the concept of SNM and argues that the fundamental principles that have been the subject of considerable academic scrutiny are equally applicable to the humanitarian logistic field – albeit, in some cases, the specific environment may alter the balance of risk/benefit for particular approaches.


The application of commercial SNM theory and practice has received limited consideration within the humanitarian aid logistics literature to date. This paper is designed to redress this shortfall. As a result, it is hoped that it will act as a catalyst for further research and to widen and deepen the resultant debate with a view to improving the outcome for those affected by current and future disasters.



Tatham, P. and Pettit, S. (2010), "Transforming humanitarian logistics: the journey to supply network management", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 40 No. 8/9, pp. 609-622.

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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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