Outsourcing of humanitarian logistics to commercial logistics service providers: An empirical investigation

Ioanna Falagara Sigala, Tina Wakolbinger

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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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. [...]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47 - 69
JournalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 101015 Operations research

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