Urrea, Gloria, Alfonso J. Pedraza‐Martinez and Maria Besiou (2020): Volunteer Management in Charity Storehouses: Experience, Congestion and Operational Performance, Production and Operations Management, 28(10): 2653-2671.
Abstract: We study volunteer management at a charity storehouse operated by a large faith‐based organization. The storehouse runs entirely on volunteer efforts. We investigate the role of volunteer experience and storehouse congestion in the preparation of orders using a multi‐method approach. First, we conduct a field study to explore these relationships and collect data at the level of volunteers’ teams. These teams can pair volunteers with either different levels of experience (mixed pairing) or equal levels of experience (no‐mixed pairing). Second, we estimate the effects of volunteer experience and storehouse congestion on the order processing times empirically. Third, we build a simulation model to study how operational decisions—volunteers’ pairing in teams and whether to allow or impede storehouse congestion—affect two performance metrics: on‐time order preparation rate and additional time to prepare the orders, in steady conditions. Then, we simulate disaster conditions at the storehouse, that is, simultaneous surges in supply of volunteers and demand of orders. Contrary to extant literature on team collaboration, we find that no‐mixed pairing outperforms mixed pairing under disaster conditions with storehouse congestion. In fact, no‐mixed pairing improves the on‐time order preparation by 4.32% and the additional time to prepare the orders by 14.42% compared to mixed pairing. Moreover, under disaster conditions, a “controlled congestion” policy at the storehouse delivers the best performance metrics.
Prakash, Chandra, Maria Besiou, Charan Parikshit and Gupta S. Sumeet (2020): Organization theory in humanitarian operations: a review and suggested research agenda, Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 10 (2): 261-284.
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to review the current application of organization theory (OT) in the humanitarian supply chain (HSC) and identify the future OT-based research opportunities that can advance knowledge of humanitarian operations. The study uses a systematic literature review methodology to identify the current status and future direction of the OT-based study in HSC literature. The applied theories are those that have been mentioned in at least two research articles in the HSC literature. The proposed theories are either adopted from the top four referred organizational theories in the supply chain literature or those that can explain the issue of information asymmetry in HSC. The study identifies and describes eight organizational theories and their possible future research questions in HSC. Among these, the first four theories (i.e. resource-based theory, resource dependence theory, social exchange theory and contingency theory) have already been initially applied in the humanitarian field, while the remaining theories (i.e. institutional theory, stakeholder theory, transactional cost theory and information theory) have potential for future application.
Besiou, Maria and Luk N. Van Wassenhove (2020): Humanitarian Operations: A World of Opportunity for Relevant and Impactful Research, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 22(1): 135-145.
Abstract: The number of people affected by disasters has increased over the past decades, whereas funding has declined. The need for effective humanitarian aid is, therefore, larger than ever. Humanitarian organizations have recognized the critical role of supply chain management in reaching beneficiaries, and they have introduced commercial routines and best practices. Academics realized that humanitarian operations constitute a fruitful new research area and adapted solution techniques developed for commercial operations to disaster situations with mitigated success. Meanwhile, the problems that humanitarian practitioners face quickly evolve. In this paper, we highlight challenges in matching practitioner needs with academic publications and outline the great opportunities for impactful and relevant research.
Turrini, Laura, Maria Besiou, Dominik Papies and Joern Meissner (2020): The role of operational expenditures and misalignments in fundraising for international humanitarian aid, Journal of Operations Management, 66: 379-417.
Abstract: Funding for international humanitarian aid falls far behind demand for disaster response, hampering the operations of international humanitarian organizations (IHOs). One remedy to close this gap is to increase the effectiveness of fundraising activities for IHOs. This remedy means spending as little as possible in fundraising activities but, at the same time, still receiving sufficient donations to implement disaster response programs in response to the needs that arise when disasters occur. We contribute to the literature by theoretically developing and estimating a conceptual framework that links donation behavior to the operations that IHOs aim to pursue; the framework incorporates operational costs communicated in appeals, fundraising efforts, and media attention. We argue that effects are not homogenous across disasters but that IHOs can leverage public attention and disaster and appeal characteristics, such as operational costs, to increase donations. We test the framework on a unique data set for disaster response programs operated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), covering 174 disasters to which the IFRC responded between 2010 and 2017.
Salem, Mojtaba, Niels Van Quaquebeke, Maria Besiou and Louisa Meyer (2019): Intergroup leadership: How leaders can enhance performance of humanitarian operations, Production and Operations Management, 28 (11): 2877-2897.
Abstract: International humanitarian organizations (IHOs) always strive to improve their operational performance in the field. While anecdotes from practice suggest that IHO field office leadership plays a crucial role in this regard, these claims have not been deeply substantiated by primary data. In response, we collected survey data from 125 humanitarian workers, concentrated in disaster response and development programs, on the issues of field office leadership and operational performance. Building on the operations management and organizational behavior literature, we find that leaders who adopt an intergroup leadership style can significantly improve operational performance via enhancing cooperation between local and expatriate subgroups inside a field office. Notably, we find that the intergroup leadership style becomes more effective as humanitarian workers become more entrenched within cohesive subgroups. These results should help IHOs to better select and train their field office leaders and achieve higher operational performance.
Dolinskaya, Irina, Maria Besiou and Sara Guerrero-Garcia (2018): Humanitarian medical supply chain in disaster response, Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 8 (2): 199-226.
Lewin, Rebecca, Maria Besiou, Jean-Baptiste Lamarche, Stephen Cahill and Sara Guerrero-Garcia (2018): Delivering in a moving world…looking to our supply chains to meet the increasing scale, cost and complexity of humanitarian needs, Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 8 (4): 518-532.
Abstract: Purpose The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of the humanitarian supply chain (HSC) as the backbone of the humanitarian operations. It further proposes feasible ways to overcome some of the main supply chain challenges identified by practitioners to achieve cost efficient and effective operations. Design/methodology/approach The challenges that the HSC faces and proposed changes to overcome them are gathered from interviews with nearly 40 practitioners. Findings Five critical issues that affect the future of HSCs are identified along with recommendations to address them. Social implications It supports the fulfillment of the agenda for humanity’s five core responsibilities: global leadership to prevent and end conflict, uphold the norms that safeguard humanity, leave no one behind, change people’s lives – from delivering aid to ending need, and invest in humanity. Originality/value The original report was presented at the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016.
Besiou, Maria, Alfonso J. Pedraza-Martinez and Luk N. Van Wassenhove (2018): OR applied to humanitarian operations, European Journal of Operational Research, 269 (2): 397-405.
Abstract: The humanitarian caseload is growing rapidly while funds are declining. The sector clearly will have to do more with less. Optimizing constrained resources is the strength of OR. Our discipline can strongly support humanitarian practitioners provided it works on pressing real problems and translates its research into easily implementable tools whose effectiveness can be verified. This Special Issue gathers a very rich and varied collection of papers along those principles. It clearly shows the value of OR and the many exciting research problems in this important area of humanitarian operations.
Salem, Mojtaba, Niels Van Quaquebeke and Maria Besiou (2018): How field office leaders drive learning and creativity in humanitarian aid: Exploring the role of boundary-spanning leadership for expatriate and local aid worker collaboration, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 39 (5): 594-611.
Abstract: Many humanitarian aid workers receive training prior to being dispatched into the field, but they often encounter challenges that require additional learning and creativity. Consequently, aid organizations formally support collaboration among the expatriate and local workers in a field office. At best, those aid workers would not only exploit their joint knowledge but also explore novel ways of managing the challenges at hand. Yet differences between expatriate and local groups (e.g., in ethnicity, religion, education, and salary) often thwart intergroup collaboration in field offices and, by extension, any joint learning or creativity. In response to this issue, we study the role of field office leaders—specifically, how their boundary-spanning behavior may inspire collaboration between the two groups and therefore facilitate joint learning and creativity. We propose that a leader's in-group prototypicality additionally catalyzes this process—that is, a leader's behavior has more impact if s/he is seen as representing his/her group. We tested and found support for our hypothesized moderated mediation model in a field sample of 137 aid workers from 59 humanitarian organizations. Thus, our study generally highlights the pivotal role that field office leaders play for crucial outcomes in humanitarian aid operations. Furthermore, we offer concrete steps for field office leaders who want to inspire better collaboration between the expatriate and local aid workers they lead.
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Kunz, Nathan, Luk N. Van Wassenhove, Maria Besiou, Christophe Hambye and Gyöngyi Kovács (2017): Relevance of humanitarian logistics research: best practices and way forward, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 37 (11): 1585-1599.
Abstract: Purpose This paper is based on a panel discussion at EurOMA 2015. The purpose of this paper is to identify a number of barriers to relevant research in humanitarian logistics. The authors propose a charter of ten rules for conducting relevant humanitarian research. Design/methodology/approach The authors use operations management literature to identify best practices for doing research with practice. The authors compile, condense and interpret opinions expressed by three academics and one practitioner at the panel discussion, and illustrate them through quotes. Findings The increasing volume of papers published in the humanitarian logistics literature has not led to a proportional impact on practice. The authors identify a number of reasons for this, such as poor problem definition, difficult access to data or lack of contextualization. The authors propose a charter of ten rules that have the potential to make humanitarian logistics research more relevant for practice. Practical implications By developing best practices for doing relevant research in humanitarian logistics, this paper enables the academic community and practice to better work together on relevant and impactful research projects. Academic knowledge combined with practice-inspired problems has the potential to generate significant improvements to humanitarian practice. Originality/value This paper is the first to address the problem of relevance of humanitarian logistics research. It is also one of the few papers involving a practitioner to discuss practical relevance of research. Through this unique approach, it is hoped that this paper provides a set of particularly helpful recommendations for researchers studying humanitarian logistics.
Burkart, Christian, Maria Besiou and Tina Wakolbinger (2016): The funding—Humanitarian supply chain interface, Surveys in Operations Research and Management Science, 21 (2): 31-45.
Abstract: Humanitarian organizations (HOs) supply goods and services to people in need, using funds provided by donors supporting their mission. Funding systems, funds, and their characteristics have a very strong impact on the success of HOs in fulfilling their and donor needs. A wide variety of articles exists on humanitarian supply chain management (HSCM) and on managing and raising donations. However, a limited, yet growing, branch of literature explores topics in the new field of the interface between funding and HSC. This article provides an overview of research in this field and tries to capture how it has been developing. We achieve this overview through structuring the core issues discussed in the literature into a funding—humanitarian supply chain (HSC) interface framework. The framework leads to the identification of research gaps and promising areas for future research. The article raises awareness of the importance of carefully evaluating decisions related to funding systems and provides researchers and practitioners interested in this topic with guidance with respect to the core issues to be considered.
Besiou, Maria, Orla Stapleton and Luk N. Van Wassenhove (2011): System dynamics for humanitarian operations, Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 1 (1): 78-103.
Abstract: Purpose The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the appropriateness of system dynamics (SD) methodology as a tool for humanitarian decision makers to understand the effect of their decisions on humanitarian operations. The authors seek to present the initial stages and preliminary findings of a SD model used to analyze a well‐defined subsystem of humanitarian operations, field vehicle fleet management; then build on this example by identifying an additional area of humanitarian operations for future research using the SD methodology. Design/methodology/approach Case‐based research was combined with SD methodology to examine the appropriateness of this methodology for use in humanitarian operations. Findings Humanitarian operations are characterized by multiple actors, feedback loops, time pressures, resource constraints and uncertainty. The authors find that SD has the capacity to accurately represent the dynamic complexity of humanitarian operations, and is therefore an appropriate tool to study these systems. Research limitations/implications The well-defined issue of field vehicle fleet management in humanitarian organizations is used to illustrate an application of SD for humanitarian operations. Due to the difficulty in obtaining necessary data to build the SD model, this study uses estimations based on over three years of research into fleet management in the humanitarian sector. The authors then present an example of a broader but less well‐defined subsystem in the humanitarian sector that can be analyzed using SD methodology to the benefit of the overall humanitarian relief operation. Practical implications Decision making in humanitarian operations is usually based on intuition and experience which are not always sufficient to fully understand the global impact of these decisions. SD provides humanitarian decision makers with a method to simulate and compare the impact of alternative decisions that would not be possible in real life situations. Social implications This paper examines the appropriateness of SD methodology to help humanitarians improve the effectiveness of their relief and development programs through better‐informed decision making. Originality/value This paper presents one of the first attempts to use SD methodology to build a model for humanitarian operations using a well‐defined subsystem, field vehicle fleet management.
Besiou, Maria, Alfonso J. Pedraza-Martinez and Luk N. Van Wassenhove (2014): Vehicle Supply Chains in Humanitarian Operations: Decentralization, Operational Mix, and Earmarked Funding, Production and Operations Management, 23 (11): 1950-1965.
Abstract: The work of international humanitarian organizations (IHOs) frequently involves operating in remote locations, decentralized decision-making, and the simultaneous implementation of development and disaster response programs. A large proportion of this work is funded by “earmarked” donations, since donors often exhibit a preference for the programs they are willing to fund. From extensive research involving qualitative descriptions and quantitative data, and applying system dynamics methodology, we model vehicle supply chains (VSCs) in support of humanitarian field operations. Our efforts encompass the often-overlooked decentralized environment by incorporating the three different VSC structures that IHOs operate, as well as examining the entire mix of development and disaster response programs, and the specific (and virtually unexplored) effects of earmarked funding. Our results suggest that earmarked funding causes a real—and negative—operational impact on humanitarian disaster response programs in a decentralized setting.