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Drivers of government restrictions on humanitarian supply chains: An exploratory study

Nathan Kunz (Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
Gerald Reiner (Department of Operations Management and Logistics, Universitaet Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 5 December 2016




Foreign governments do not always welcome international humanitarian organizations responding to a disaster in their country. Many governments even impose restrictions on humanitarian supply chains through import barriers, travel restrictions or excessive bureaucracy. The purpose of this paper is to analyze these restrictions and try to identify the government characteristics that best explain the tendency to impose such restrictions.


Through a multiple case study among four international humanitarian organizations the authors identify and analyze the restrictions imposed on humanitarian supply chains in 143 different programs. The authors compare the average number of restrictions per country with different governmental and socio-economic situational factors.


The authors find that state fragility, a combination of government ineffectiveness and illegitimacy, is the characteristic that best explains the tendency of a government to impose restrictions on humanitarian supply chains.

Practical implications

Knowing that fragile states tend to impose a high number of restrictions helps humanitarian organizations to prepare adequately before entering a country with a fragile government. The organization can, for example, anticipate possible concerns and establish trust with the government. Commercial companies starting to do business in such country can learn from this knowledge.


Multiple studies have mentioned the strong impact of governments on humanitarian supply chains, but no paper has yet analyzed this problem in detail. The paper is the first to identify the characteristics that explain the number of restrictions governments impose on humanitarian supply chains, and what humanitarian organizations can do to address them.



This work was partially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (FNS Grant No. 143578). An early version of this paper was presented at 20th EurOMA Conference 2013, Dublin, Ireland.


Kunz, N. and Reiner, G. (2016), "Drivers of government restrictions on humanitarian supply chains: An exploratory study", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 329-351.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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