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Case study of a humanitarian logistics simulation exercise and insights for training design

Erica Gralla (Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Department, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA)
Jarrod Goentzel (Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Bernard Chomilier (World Food Programme, Rome, Italy)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 7 April 2015




The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze a successful training exercise in detail, through both a practical and a theoretical lens, in order to identify critical aspects of its success and enable others to build upon it; and to capture insights and lessons learned in a framework that will facilitate the design of future trainings for a variety of goals and audiences.


The authors document and analyze the case study of a successful humanitarian logistics training exercise: the World Food Programme’s Logistics Response Team (WFP’s LRT) training. The LRT is described in detail in order to capture the extensive knowledge and experience that went into developing the full-scale, immersive exercise.


The authors evaluate the LRT training through a theoretical lens, considering how it teaches the diverse set of skills required and identifying reasons for its success. The authors contrast the LRT with a light version developed for classroom use, and capture insights in a framework that highlights critical aspects of training design.

Research limitations/implications

The requirements and design aspects highlighted in the framework are very high level, but they focus attention on key aspects that should be considered. Future research should develop more targeted metrics for evaluating what people learn from training exercises. More generally, a systematic approach to capturing knowledge and codifying good practices should be developed.

Practical implications

The detailed case study and framework provide a basis for the design and improvement of simulated emergency training exercises, which are common in the humanitarian practice community.


The case study of WFP’s LRT training formally documents valuable knowledge and experience that went into its development. The humanitarian community can use the proposed framework to more systematically evaluate, improve, and extend training exercises.



Gralla, E., Goentzel, J. and Chomilier, B. (2015), "Case study of a humanitarian logistics simulation exercise and insights for training design", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 113-138.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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