To read this content please select one of the options below:

System dynamics for humanitarian operations revisited

Maria Besiou (Kuehne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany)
Luk N. Van Wassenhove (INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 21 July 2021

Issue publication date: 26 October 2021




The purpose of this study is to show that the current complexity of humanitarian operations has only increased the usefulness of system dynamics (SD) in helping decision-makers better understand the challenges they face.


A critical analysis to evaluate how SD methodology has been applied to humanitarian operations.


Today's humanitarian operations are characterized by huge complexity given the increased number of stakeholders, feedback loops, uncertainty, scarce resources and multiple objectives. The authors argue that SD's tools (causal-loop diagram, data layer, simulation model) have the capacity to appropriately capture this complexity, thereby enhancing intuition and understanding.


Researchers and practitioners hesitate to use system dynamics when data is missing. The authors suggest alternatives to deal with this common situation.



Besiou, M. and Van Wassenhove, L.N. (2021), "System dynamics for humanitarian operations revisited", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 599-608.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles