Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Topics: Supply chain management, Logistics, Management Pages: 18 (5769 words) Published: April 20, 2011
Dublin Institute of Technology

Articles School of Management


(Le)agility in Humanitarian Aid Supply Chains
Kirstin Scholten
Dublin Institute of Technology,

Pamela Sharkey Scott
Dublin Institute of Technology

Brian Fynes
Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin

Recommended Citation
Scholten, K., Sharkey Scott, P., Fynes, B. Le)agility in humanitarian aid (NGO) supply International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management Volume: 40 Issue: 8/9 2010

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(Le)Agility in Humanitarian Aid Supply Chains
Kirstin Scholten and Pamela Sharkey Scott Faculty of Business, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland, and Brian Fynes Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Abstract Purpose - This paper explores the concept of agility in the context of supply chains of humanitarian aid (HA) organizations, particularly Non Government Organizations (NGOs). This responds to the increasing pressure on NGOs to use their resources more strategically if they are to gain donor trust and long term commitment.

Design/ Methodology/Approach - A literature based approach that extends the commercial supply chain concept of agility to NGOs is combined with the first exploratory semi structured interviews of these concepts with five NGO supply chain directors.

Findings – The commercial concept of agility when responding to disaster relief holds strong potential for increasing efficiency and effectiveness, but this application is restrained by the absence of supporting Information Technology (IT) and the relegation of supply chain management (SCM) to the ‘back office’ by NGOs. This has potential implications for NGOs and other humanitarian aid agencies.

Research Limitations - This paper represents an exploratory study, and an extended pool of interviewees would reinforce the qualitative findings. Planned future research will address this issue.

Practical Implications - Practical guidance on how NGOs can proactively manage their organization’s ability to respond with agility in a highly pressured environment is provided.

Originality - This paper is the first to offer practical guidance to managers of NGOs on strategies available to improve their organization’s flexibility and agility, based on theoretical concepts and initial exploratory data. In addition, evidence of how commercial tools apply in a different arena may prompt commercial managers to be more innovative in utilizing and customizing supply chain principles to their particular context of operation.

Keywords – Supply Chain Management, Agility, Leagility, NGO Paper type – Research Paper

Donors increasingly demand accountability, transparency and value for money in return for their sponsorship of Humanitarian Aid (HA) agencies. Meeting these more challenging performance and accountability standards requires HA agencies to be more professional in their approach to managing their operations (Thomas and Kopczak, 2005). As 80% of HA operations comprise SCM activities (Van Wassenhove, 2006), the application of commercial SCM techniques may at least partially address this problem. However, to date HA agencies continue to rely on standards used in the for-profit sector in the 1970s and 80s (Fenton, 2003, Rickard, 2003) and largely ignore emerging techniques developed to help businesses respond to an increasingly challenging environment. From a theoretical perspective the application of SCM principles to HA has been largely overlooked, despite the stakes and size of the aid industry and the increasing flow of HA funding to the developing world (Beamon and Balcik, 2008)- See Figure 1. This is...
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