Lessons Learned from Humanitarian Logistics to Manage Supply Chain Disruptions

Kovács, G. & Sigala IF.
Publication language
Date published
15 Dec 2020
Journal of Supply Chain Management
Research, reports and studies
Coordination, Disaster preparedness, resilience and risk reduction, Contingency Planning, COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, humanitarian action, Logistics, Climate Action (SDG)

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) outbreak affects not just populations but also global and local economies and supply chains. The outbreak itself has impacted on production lines and manufacturing capacities. In response to the outbreak, policies have been put in place that blocks the movement of people and materials, causing supply chain disruptions. Mainstream supply chain management has been at a loss in responding to these disruptions, mostly due to a dominant focus on minimizing costs for stable operations, while following lean, just‐in‐time, and zero‐inventory approaches. On the other hand, pandemic response supply chains, and their related supply chain disruptions, share many characteristics with disaster response and thereby with humanitarian supply chains. Much can thus be learned from humanitarian supply chains for managing pandemic‐related supply chain disruptions. What is more, facing, and managing, supply chain disruptions can be considered the new norm also in light of other disruptive forces such as climate change, or financial or political crises. This article therefore presents lessons learned from humanitarian supply chains that help mitigate and overcome supply chain disruptions. These lessons not only relate to preparedness and mobilization, but also relate to standardization, innovation, and collaboration. Together, they brace organizations, supply chains, and societies, to manage current and future disruptions.

Kovács, G. & Sigala IF.