Managing the humanitarian supply chain: a collaborative approach?

Ramsden, Gary P. (2014) Managing the humanitarian supply chain: a collaborative approach? PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

Managing the humanitarian supply chain - a collaborative approach?
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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


Humanitarian disasters are expected to increase 5-fold over the next 50 years. In 2010 a total of 385 separate disasters killed over 297,000 people worldwide, affected more than 217 million others and caused US$ 123.9 billion of economic damages. It is suggested that the scale of resource dedicated to logistics provision in response to disasters accounts for upwards of 80% of the total budget, hence humanitarian logistics both as a practice and a research topic is very much in the spotlight. Consequently, this research addresses what is argued to be the under-representation of humanitarian logistics in the literature and the associated lack of empirical research focussed on the management of the supply chain.
Collaborative working has been promoted as a Silver Bullet in many areas of Supply Chain Management and is contended to be a mechanism to prevent organisations optimising solely their own results rather than integrating their goals and activities with others to benefit overall end user value. Collaborative techniques inherent within commercial supply chains have not been observed in the humanitarian relief chain. This study investigates why this is the case, as this lack of collaboration is reported to lead to inefficiency; which at worst results in increased humanitarian suffering and additional loss of life. Hence, the findings reveal ways to advance collaborative working within the humanitarian relief supply chain.
Criticism is levelled at the predominance of quantitative methodologies in current research within humanitarian logistics. This study addresses this gap as well as the calls for more cross-organisational case studies within the field, by adopting a multi-case, qualitative approach based on the triangulation of data gathered during a series of in-depth interviews and focus groups across 4 separate humanitarian relief organisations. Data interpretation is through content analysis to identify specific patterns and themes. The research concerns itself with the response immediately following the onset of a disaster. This limited scope helps to address issues surrounding the generalisability of a purely qualitative approach whilst also maintaining control over data volume; however, there are still ample opportunities for significant theoretical and practical contribution.
The findings identify specific barriers to collaborative working within the sector; in particular, themes and patterns within management and control, understanding and training, relationships, and military involvement have surfaced. Outcomes also have implications for commercial supply chain managers who are increasingly faced with challenges that no longer obey the traditional rules of forecast driven certainty and predictability, and are therefore, expected to adopt the more event driven, agile and flexible approaches that are already a reality for their humanitarian sector counterparts.
The study concludes with the development of a conceptual generic model of the humanitarian supply chain that includes a number of significant issues which, if addressed will improve collaboration and thereby benefit overall efficiency and effectiveness to the general betterment of future relief provision.

Keywords:Humanitarian supply chain, Logistics, Humanitarian disasters, Supply chain management, Humanitarian relief, Collaborative working
Subjects:J Technologies > J960 Transport Logistics
N Business and Administrative studies > N120 International Business studies
N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
Relation typeTarget identifier
ID Code:14694
Deposited On:15 Aug 2014 10:58

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