Fleet Composition Management of Humanitarian Organizations in Response to Armed Conflicts

Zoom Research Seminar / GF Forum

Past event — 10 May 2023

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Telesilla O. Kotsi, PhD

Assistant Professor, Operations and Business Analytics Department

The Ohio State University

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We investigate transportation expenses of a large humanitarian organization (HO) that operates in armed conflict settings worldwide. We combine a multi-year proprietary data set of twenty-four country offices, which include information about funding sources and fleet decisions of vehicle rentals and subcontracting. Rentals are relatively expensive but do not permit security breaches because nonprofit authorized staff members drive the rented vehicles. Subcontracting is relatively cheap but permits security breaches because subcontracted drivers outside the nonprofit drive the cars. We find that in areas of armed conflict the HO prefers vehicle rentals to subcontracting. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first one that uses econometric models to better understand the drivers of decision-making of HOs about their fleet management during armed conflicts.


Telesilla Kotsi is an assistant professor of operations management at the Fisher College of Business. She joined the Operations and Business Analytics department after receiving her PhD from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Telesilla combines field research with rigorous analytical methods to study challenges that nonprofit organizations face. For example, in her current work, she uses game theory, dynamic programming, and econometrics. Her work has been published in the Manufacturing & Services Operations Management journal and received the M&SOM Society Award for Responsible Research in Operations Management (Honorable Mention, 2022). Nonprofit operations management is an important area of research since nonprofits often work in areas where governments or private companies may be unable or unwilling to address the needs of the population. “Nonprofits must provide good and services to their beneficiaries in a timely, equitable, and efficient manner, while ensuring they do “no harm” to other stakeholders and responding to their donors’ pressures for accountability and transparency,” Telesilla says. Therefore, her primary research interest centers on how allocation of resources (cash, assets, personnel, etc.) affect a nonprofit’s own performance and services provided to its beneficiaries. Her dissertation received the Elwood S. Buffa Doctoral Dissertation Award from the Decision Sciences Institute (2021). Prior pursuing her doctoral studies in the US, Telesilla worked at INSEAD Humanitarian Research Group as a Research Assistant and received a MSc in Operations Research with Computational Optimization from the University of Edinburgh in the UK. Her BSC Degree is on Mechanical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.



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Bärbel Wegener

Assistant to Resident Faculty