Coordination in humanitarian relief chains: chain coordinators

P. Akhtar (Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
N.E. Marr (Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
E.V. Garnevska (Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Publication date: 18 May 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify chain coordinators and to explore their roles. The paper also highlights certain advantages of coordination, specific competencies of the coordinators, and challenges in the coordination.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a case study research. The data were collected through interviews, observations, and personal experiences of working as a logistics manager and a project manager in the 2005 South Asian earthquake.

Findings

The coordinated organizations manage a number of complex relationships to respond to the disasters effectively and efficiently. An umbrella organization plays a chain coordinator role in horizontal coordination. The umbrella organization leads, directs, and makes major decisions. A country director/programme manager acts as a strategic coordinator in vertical coordination. However, logistics managers, procurement managers and project managers (operations coordinators) also handle coordination activities. The coordinators’ tangible (finance, technology, and people) and intangible (leadership, extra efforts, relevant experiences and education, relationship management skills, research abilities, and performance measurement skills) assets are the key determinants of chain‐coordination success. The success of coordination is achieved if these characteristics of the coordinators are effectively matched with the unpredictable nature of humanitarian relief chains. However, coordination does not guarantee success in all situations because organizations may face coordination challenges such as cultural and structural differences.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides specific and detailed information from the selected humanitarian relief chains of the South Asian earthquake 2005. The paper explores the useful and enhanced understanding of fundamentals to achieve the success of coordination in the chains. Therefore, it is an endeavour to enable a better practical strategy for chain coordinators/managers.

Originality/value

The conceptual and empirical research on the characteristics of chain coordinators and their impact on coordination success is very limited. This paper provides new thoughts to investigate relationships between the characteristics of chain coordinators or coordination and the success of humanitarian relief chains.

Keywords

Citation

Akhtar, P., Marr, N. and Garnevska, E. (2012), "Coordination in humanitarian relief chains: chain coordinators", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 85-103. https://doi.org/10.1108/20426741211226019

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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