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Article
Publication date: 22 June 2020

Timo Gossler, Tina Wakolbinger and Christian Burkart

Outsourcing of logistics has great importance in disaster relief. Aid agencies spend several billion US dollars every year on logistics services. However, the concept of…

Abstract

Purpose

Outsourcing of logistics has great importance in disaster relief. Aid agencies spend several billion US dollars every year on logistics services. However, the concept of outsourcing has not been established adequately in literature on humanitarian logistics, leading to a fragmented view of the practice. This paper provides a holistic perspective of the concept by constructing a conceptual framework to analyze both practice and research of outsourcing in humanitarian operations. Based on this analysis, we explore future trends and identify research gaps.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a structured review of academic literature, a two-round Delphi study with 31 experts from aid agencies and a complementary full-day focus group with twelve experts from aid agencies and logistics service providers.

Findings

The paper systemizes the current practice of outsourcing in humanitarian logistics according to a conceptual framework of five dimensions: subject, object, partner, design and context. In addition, it reveals ten probable developments of the practice over the next years. Finally, it describes eight important research gaps and presents a research agenda for the field.

Research limitations/implications

The literature review considered peer-reviewed academic papers. Practitioner papers could provide additional insights into the practice. Moreover, the Delphi study focused on the perspective of aid agencies. Capturing the views of logistics service providers in more detail would be a valuable addition.

Originality/value

The paper establishes the academic basis for the important practice of outsourcing in humanitarian logistics. It highlights essential research gaps and, thereby, opens up the field for future research.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 50 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 5 May 2015

Diego Vega and Christine Roussat

In recent years, logistics service providers (LSPs) have become important players in the humanitarian field, providing support for NGOs and governments when they respond…

Abstract

Purpose

In recent years, logistics service providers (LSPs) have become important players in the humanitarian field, providing support for NGOs and governments when they respond to major disasters. However, the academic literature on humanitarian logistics has not really explored the roles that LSPs play in relief supply chains. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of LSPs in humanitarian relief.

Design/methodology/approach

The research uses a two-stage exploratory approach: first, it systematically reviews the humanitarian logistics literature to see the extent to which LSPs are taken into account. Then it analyses the web sites of leading LSPs to examine how they communicate about their role in humanitarian relief.

Findings

This research produces some surprising findings. While the academic literature seems to neglect the roles of LSPs in humanitarian logistics, some major third-party firms highlight their roles in relief networks. A number of research propositions are presented describing emerging roles for LSPs in relief supply chains.

Research limitations/implications

This paper focuses on academic humanitarian logistics literature; a review of practitioner articles and the LSP literature might also be relevant. The web site analysis is based on corporate communication which may contain bias. Further research should add to this work with NGO/government perspectives and produce primary data in order to demonstrate the external validity of the research propositions.

Practical implications

The research identifies different roles LSPs could play in humanitarian supply chains, suggesting opportunities for new business lines.

Originality/value

The main contributions of this paper are to explore the roles LSPs could play in humanitarian logistics and to bring a new perspective to humanitarian logistics research.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 45 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Nathan Kunz, Luk N. Van Wassenhove, Maria Besiou, Christophe Hambye and Gyöngyi Kovács

This paper is based on a panel discussion at EurOMA 2015. The purpose of this paper is to identify a number of barriers to relevant research in humanitarian logistics. The…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper is based on a panel discussion at EurOMA 2015. The purpose of this paper is to identify a number of barriers to relevant research in humanitarian logistics. The authors propose a charter of ten rules for conducting relevant humanitarian research.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use operations management literature to identify best practices for doing research with practice. The authors compile, condense and interpret opinions expressed by three academics and one practitioner at the panel discussion, and illustrate them through quotes.

Findings

The increasing volume of papers published in the humanitarian logistics literature has not led to a proportional impact on practice. The authors identify a number of reasons for this, such as poor problem definition, difficult access to data or lack of contextualization. The authors propose a charter of ten rules that have the potential to make humanitarian logistics research more relevant for practice.

Practical implications

By developing best practices for doing relevant research in humanitarian logistics, this paper enables the academic community and practice to better work together on relevant and impactful research projects. Academic knowledge combined with practice-inspired problems has the potential to generate significant improvements to humanitarian practice.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to address the problem of relevance of humanitarian logistics research. It is also one of the few papers involving a practitioner to discuss practical relevance of research. Through this unique approach, it is hoped that this paper provides a set of particularly helpful recommendations for researchers studying humanitarian logistics.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 37 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 5 December 2016

Marianne Jahre, Ala Pazirandeh and Luk Van Wassenhove

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a more complete understanding of logistics preparedness. By comparing extant research in preparedness and logistics with…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a more complete understanding of logistics preparedness. By comparing extant research in preparedness and logistics with findings from empirical analysis of secondary data, the authors develop a definition of and framework for logistics preparedness, along with suggestions for future research agenda.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors link the way in which humanitarian organizations define and aim to achieve logistics preparedness with extant academic research. The authors critically analyze public data from 13 organizations that are active in disaster relief and review papers on logistics preparedness and humanitarian logistics.

Findings

The authors found that, despite the increased attention, there is no unified understanding across organizations about what constitutes logistics preparedness and how it can contribute to improvements in operations. Based on the review of the academic literature, the authors found that the same is true for humanitarian logistics research. The lack of a common understanding has resulted in low visibility of efforts and lack of knowledge on logistics preparedness.

Research limitations/implications

On the basis of extant research and practice, the authors suggest a definition of and framework for logistics preparedness with related suggestions for future studies.

Practical implications

Findings can help the humanitarian community gain a better understanding of their efforts related to developing logistics preparedness and can provide a better basis for communicating the need for, and results from, funding in preparedness.

Social implications

Results can support improvements in humanitarian supply chains, thereby providing affected people with rapid, cost-efficient, and better-adapted responses.

Originality/value

The findings contribute to humanitarian logistics literature, first by identifying the issues related to the lack of a common definition. Second, the authors extend the understanding of what constitutes logistics preparedness by proposing an operationalized framework and definition. Finally, the authors add to the literature by discussing what future topics and types of research may be required.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

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Article
Publication date: 20 May 2011

Gyöngyi Kovács and Karen M. Spens

The purpose of this paper is to present a brief overview of the field of humanitarian logistics and supply chain management and outline the scope of the new Journal of

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a brief overview of the field of humanitarian logistics and supply chain management and outline the scope of the new Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management (JHLSCM). It further aims to highlight the variety of humanitarian logistics research and summarize the articles in the inaugural issue.

Design/methodology/approach

Results from an e‐mail survey with editorial board members are presented. The survey is used to further shape the scope of JHLSCM.

Findings

The journal draws on a variety of research streams in humanitarian logistics. This is seen as its richness but also as a challenge.

Research limitations/implications

Humanitarian logistics is an emerging field. There is still a lack of good empirical research and research with rigor as well as relevance. More research needs to be done in developing countries and by researchers from these.

Practical implications

Even though there has been collaboration between humanitarian and commercial organizations, there is also a need to establish humanitarian‐academic partnerships to improve training, education, as well as research – which should ultimately manifest itself in an improvement of practice.

Social implications

Humanitarian logistics research needs to rediscover its aim to serve beneficiaries.

Originality/value

This paper is an introduction to the inaugural issue of a new journal, JHLSCM.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

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Article
Publication date: 4 April 2016

Cécile L'Hermitte, Peter Tatham, Marcus Bowles and Ben Brooks

The purpose of this paper is to explore the underlying strategic mechanisms of agility in a humanitarian logistics context. Based on the research conducted in business…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the underlying strategic mechanisms of agility in a humanitarian logistics context. Based on the research conducted in business disciplines, the paper empirically examines a set of four strategic dimensions (being purposeful, being action-focused, being collaborative, and being learning-oriented) and identifies an emergent relationship between these capabilities and agile humanitarian logistics operations.

Design/methodology/approach

Leadership and management actions perceived to support the four capabilities were identified and used as a basis to complete the exploratory research. Specifically, a case study with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) was undertaken and, in this context, a qualitative analysis of 29 face-to-face interviews with humanitarian logistics experts working for WFP was conducted.

Findings

The research corroborates the relevance of the four strategic-level capabilities to the humanitarian logistics context and confirms that these capabilities play a role in the development of agility in humanitarian operations. The work also identifies a set of key strategic decision-making areas that relate to the building of agility.

Research limitations/implications

Additional research is needed to further investigate and measure the strategic-level capabilities and to quantify their impact on operational agility. Further research should also be undertaken to extend this study to a wider range of humanitarian organisations.

Originality/value

This paper is the first empirical research that takes a strategic approach to the concept of agility in humanitarian logistics. It highlights that the leaders and managers of humanitarian organisations have a significant role to play in the building of an agile system.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 21 October 2011

Robert E. Overstreet, Dianne Hall, Joe B. Hanna and R. Kelly Rainer

The purpose of this paper is to provide future researchers with a framework for conducting research in the unique field of humanitarian logistics.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide future researchers with a framework for conducting research in the unique field of humanitarian logistics.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors categorized humanitarian logistics research articles. Borrowing from the theory of constraints and management information systems literature, the authors developed a framework for research.

Findings

The review of humanitarian logistics literature indicates that researchers have begun to lay the foundation for a core body of knowledge. While there is a growing body of research in humanitarian logistics, it is predominately focused on the area of planning.

Originality/value

This effort categorizes past research using elements of logistics, develops a framework for research in humanitarian logistics, and recommends areas for further research.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 1 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 8 April 2019

Ioanna Falagara Sigala and Tina Wakolbinger

The purpose of this paper is to empirically explore the potential of outsourcing of humanitarian logistics activities to commercial logistics service providers (LSPs…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to empirically explore the potential of outsourcing of humanitarian logistics activities to commercial logistics service providers (LSPs) throughout the different disaster phases. The authors identify incentives for initiating outsourcing of humanitarian logistics activities to commercial logistics providers, humanitarian logistics activities to be outsourced and selection criteria for partners.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on empirical data collected by interviewing 12 practitioners from commercial LSPs and 12 practitioners from humanitarian organizations (HOs). A review of related literature guided this research.

Findings

This research shows that incentives for initiating outsourcing engagements, partner selection criteria and activities to be outsourced are changing throughout the different disaster phases. A number of research propositions are presented.

Research limitations/implications

This research constitutes a first step towards the goal of a comprehensive analysis of humanitarian logistics outsourcing throughout the different disaster phases. The authors collected data from practitioners and large organizations based mainly in Europe and the USA. Hence, insights from national and local organizations of other parts of the world are missing.

Practical implications

This research provides a deeper understanding of outsourcing of humanitarian logistics activities. As the main implication for practice, the research suggests a strategic use of outsourcing during the three disaster phases. The authors acknowledge that business objectives, risks, stakeholder agendas and requirements, as well as costs play a vital and changing role for outsourcing decision-making during the three disaster stages. The managerial implications arising from the research can provide support to commercial LSPs and HOs that initiate or develop strategic outsourcing relationships.

Originality/value

This study covers the gap in the humanitarian literature related to context-specific factors of outsourcing in humanitarian logistics by empirically investigating the phenomenon. This is one of the first studies that empirically investigate the potential of outsourcing of humanitarian logistics activities throughout the disaster phases.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2016

Cécile L'Hermitte, Peter Tatham, Ben Brooks and Marcus Bowles

The purpose of this paper is to extend the concept of agility in humanitarian logistics beyond emergency operations. Since the humanitarian logistics literature focuses…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to extend the concept of agility in humanitarian logistics beyond emergency operations. Since the humanitarian logistics literature focuses primarily on emergencies and sees longer term and regular operations as being conducted in relatively stable and predictable environments, agile practices are usually not associated with humanitarian protracted operations. Therefore, this paper explores the logistics and supply chain environment in such operations in order to identify their basic features and determine if agility is an important requirement.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a case study of the United Nations World Food Programme, the authors collected and analysed qualitative and quantitative data on the characteristics of protracted operations, the risks and uncertainties most frequently encountered, their impact, and the ways that field logisticians manage contingencies.

Findings

The research demonstrates that unpredictability and disruptions exist in protracted operations. Therefore, short-term operational adjustments and agile practices are needed in order to support the continuity of humanitarian deliveries.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should focus on a wider range of humanitarian organisations and move from a descriptive to a prescriptive approach in order to inform practice. Notwithstanding these limitations, the study highlights the need for academics to broaden the scope of their research beyond emergencies and to address the specific needs of humanitarian organisations involved in longer term operations.

Originality/value

This paper is the first empirical research focusing exclusively on the logistics features of humanitarian protracted operations. It provides a more concrete and complete understanding of these operations.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 6 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 October 2019

Heide Lukosch and Tina Comes

The purpose of this paper is to present a methodology for research through game design and discuss how simulation games can be used to bridge the gap between operational…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a methodology for research through game design and discuss how simulation games can be used to bridge the gap between operational exercises and simulation or analytical modelling and to provide guidelines on how simulation games can be designed for different research purposes in the context of humanitarian logistics.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper combines a literature review on gaming as a research method with an analysis of requirements for humanitarian logistics research methods. Starting from this theoretical framework, the authors develop a design thinking approach that highlights how games can be used for different research purposes. To illustrate the approach, the authors develop two different game set-ups that are of increasing fidelity and complexity. Finally, the authors discuss the results of the evaluation of both approaches, reflect on the design choices and provide recommendations for research and practice.

Findings

Gaming is a suitable research method to explore and analyse behaviour and decisions in emergent settings that require team work and collaborative problem solving. Especially when safety and security concerns may hinder access and experimentation on site, gaming can offer a realistic and engaging quasi-experimental environment. The aspects of engagement and realism also make gaming a suitable tool to combine training and research.

Originality/value

Although the use of games has attracted some attention in commercial supply chain management and crisis response, there is no systematic overview of gaming as a research method in humanitarian logistics. This paper is set to make a headway in addressing this gap by proposing a concrete approach to design games for humanitarian logistics research.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

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