A meta‐analysis of humanitarian logistics research

Nathan Kunz (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland)
Gerald Reiner (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Publication date: 19 October 2012



The purpose of this paper is to give an up‐to‐date and structured insight into the most recent literature on humanitarian logistics, and suggest trends for future research based on the gaps identified through structured content analysis.


The authors use a quantitative and qualitative content analysis process to analyse the characteristics of the existing literature, identifying the most studied topics in six structural dimensions, and presenting gaps and recommendations for further research.


It was found that existing humanitarian logistics research shows too little interest in continuous humanitarian aid operations, in slow onset disasters and man‐made catastrophes. While several papers address different phases of disasters, very few focus particularly on the reconstruction following a disaster. Empirical research is underrepresented in the existing literature as well.

Research limitations/implications

While five of the authors’ structural dimensions are inspired by previous reviews, the sixth dimension (situational factors) is derived from a theoretical framework which the authors developed and which has never been tested before. The validity of the study could therefore be increased by testing this framework.


The authors analyse the broadest set of papers (174) ever covered in previous literature reviews on humanitarian logistics. A quantitative analysis of the papers was conducted in order to analyse the situational factors which have mostly been studied so far in literature. This paper is also the first in humanitarian logistics to use content analysis as the main methodology to analyse literature in a structured way, which is of particular value to the academic community as well as practitioners.



Kunz, N. and Reiner, G. (2012), "A meta‐analysis of humanitarian logistics research", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 116-147. https://doi.org/10.1108/20426741211260723

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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