International Humanitarian Logistics - An Empirical Investigation

Zoom Research Seminar

Past event — 23 September 2020

Spoken language


Humanitarian organizations operate long-term development programs and respond to a diverse set of disasters, e.g. to natural disasters, armed conflicts and epidemics. Yet, the vast majority of humanitarian operations research focuses on best preparing for and responding to large-scale sudden-onset natural disasters, ignoring other types of disasters. In this study, we provide quantitative empirical evidence on the effect of the disaster context on humanitarian operations. Specifically, we study an important but often neglected leg of the humanitarian supply chain: the international transportation. First, we study supply chain flexibility, i.e. the international transportation decisions of an international humanitarian organization (IHO) in varying disaster contexts. Second, we study the stakeholder environment in international transportation, i.e. how the market players and host governments adapt in varying disaster contexts and the subsequent effect on the IHO’s delivery performance. For that purpose, we empirically analyze international transports of Doctors without Borders (MSF) to 32 recipient countries that experience varying disaster contexts over a period of eight years. We find that MSF is responsive to changes in the disaster profiles of countries over time. Surprisingly, we cannot identify adverse performance effects of disaster intensity through the stakeholder environment.


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Bärbel Wegener

Assistant to Resident Faculty