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Relevance of humanitarian logistics research: best practices and way forward

Nathan Kunz (Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
Luk N. Van Wassenhove (INSEAD Humanitarian Research Group, Fontainebleau, France)
Maria Besiou (Kuehne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany)
Christophe Hambye (International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, Switzerland)
Gyöngyi Kovács (HUMLOG Institute, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 6 November 2017




This paper is based on a panel discussion at EurOMA 2015. The purpose of this paper is to identify a number of barriers to relevant research in humanitarian logistics. The authors propose a charter of ten rules for conducting relevant humanitarian research.


The authors use operations management literature to identify best practices for doing research with practice. The authors compile, condense and interpret opinions expressed by three academics and one practitioner at the panel discussion, and illustrate them through quotes.


The increasing volume of papers published in the humanitarian logistics literature has not led to a proportional impact on practice. The authors identify a number of reasons for this, such as poor problem definition, difficult access to data or lack of contextualization. The authors propose a charter of ten rules that have the potential to make humanitarian logistics research more relevant for practice.

Practical implications

By developing best practices for doing relevant research in humanitarian logistics, this paper enables the academic community and practice to better work together on relevant and impactful research projects. Academic knowledge combined with practice-inspired problems has the potential to generate significant improvements to humanitarian practice.


This paper is the first to address the problem of relevance of humanitarian logistics research. It is also one of the few papers involving a practitioner to discuss practical relevance of research. Through this unique approach, it is hoped that this paper provides a set of particularly helpful recommendations for researchers studying humanitarian logistics.



Maria Besiou, Christophe Hambye and Gyöngyi Kovács contributed equally to the paper.


Kunz, N., Van Wassenhove, L.N., Besiou, M., Hambye, C. and Kovács, G. (2017), "Relevance of humanitarian logistics research: best practices and way forward", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 37 No. 11, pp. 1585-1599.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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