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Systemic barriers and enablers in humanitarian technology transfer

Ana Laura R. Santos (Design for Sustainability, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
Linda S.G.L. Wauben (Department of BioMechanical Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
Richard Goossens (Industrial Design Faculty, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
Han Brezet (Design for Sustainability, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 4 April 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to collect information about barriers and enablers experienced by international experts when transferring medical equipment to countries affected by humanitarian emergencies and to discuss the suitability of the principles of “openness”, “interconnections” and “non-linearity” of systems to understand the nature of the barriers and enablers as described by the international experts.

Design/methodology/approach

In this study, six semi-structured interviews were conducted with experts from humanitarian organizations. The interviews were based on a simplified model of the transfer of medical equipment adapted from supply chain literature. The model ensured that all the process steps undertaken by humanitarian organizations were considered. Afterwards, the interviews were transcribed and structurally analysed to derive barriers and enablers. Finally, the results were described in light of three theoretical principles of systems thinking.

Findings

In total, 14 types of barriers and 12 types of enablers were uncovered that illustrate the complexity of transferring medical equipment in humanitarian emergencies. The paper concludes with a proposal for future research to investigate if, and how, an approach guided by systems thinking could help to create a designated space for the formulation of original, synergetic solutions that address the identified barriers.

Originality/value

This study is the first to explore the specific logistic challenges implicit in the transfer of medical equipment in humanitarian emergencies with a lifecycle perspective. Furthermore, the concept of systems thinking is rather novel in the field of transfer of medical technology.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thankfully acknowledge the time made available by the interviewed experts of this study. This project is financed by a dissertation grant from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT – PTDC/SAU-SAP/118838/2010).

Citation

Santos, A.L.R., Wauben, L.S.G.L., Goossens, R. and Brezet, H. (2016), "Systemic barriers and enablers in humanitarian technology transfer", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 46-71. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHLSCM-12-2014-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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