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Using collaborative research methodologies in humanitarian supply chains

Yasmine Sabri (Aston Logistics and Systems Institute, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Mohammad Hossein Zarei (Faculty of Business and Law, School of Strategy and Leadership, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
Christine Harland (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 3 September 2019

Issue publication date: 5 December 2019




The purpose of this paper is to develop an existing collaborative research methodology process (Sabri, 2018), contextualise it for application in humanitarian supply chains and test it empirically.


Building on collaborative research methodology and humanitarian supply chain literature, the Sabri’s (2018) collaborative research methodology process is further developed to comprise eight phases of collaborative research contextualised for the humanitarian supply chain domain. The process is applied in a collaborative research case of academia–practitioner knowledge co-creation in a humanitarian supply chain setting, focussing on environmental sustainability improvement. The collaborative case analysis suggests a number of refinements to the elements of the process. This study undertook two cycles of academia–practitioner collaborative research.


In testing the process, a noticeable improvement in the collaboration among different humanitarian stakeholders was observed, leading to improved stakeholder management. The implementation improved the sustainability awareness and social inclusion of the affected population. Rurality, remoteness, security issues and resistance of field staff against change were among the main challenges for supply chain researchers to engage in collaborative research in the humanitarian domain.


The paper addresses the rigour‒relevance‒reflectiveness debate in the humanitarian supply chain domain. A collaborative research methodology process derived from action research is further developed using humanitarian literature, and then it is applied in a humanitarian logistics case focussed on environmental sustainability. The present collaborative research process facilitates engaged scholarship among the humanitarian stakeholders, as the researchers’ roles move from observatory to participatory knowledge broker.



The corresponding author sincerely thanks Professor Abraham B. (Rami) Shani at Politecnico di Milano for his instructive insights and mentorship on collaborative research methodologies.


Sabri, Y., Zarei, M.H. and Harland, C. (2019), "Using collaborative research methodologies in humanitarian supply chains", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 371-409.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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