Prof. Maria Besiou, PhD

Publications

Professor of Humanitarian Logistics

Publications

Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1002/job.2246

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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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1016/j.ejor.2018.02.046

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.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1108/IJOPM-04-2016-0202

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.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12297

Abstract: Photovoltaic (PV) waste is expected to significantly increase. However, legislation on producer responsibility for the collection and recovery of PV panels is limited to the European Union (EU) Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive Recast, which lays down design, collection, and recovery measures. Academic knowledge of closed-loop supply chains (CLSCs) for PV panels is scarce. We analyze the supply chain using multiple cases involving the main stakeholders in the design, production, collection, and recovery of PV panels. Our article answers two research questions: How does the PV supply chain operate, and what are critical factors affecting the reverse supply chain management of used panels? Our research seeks to fill the gap in the CLSC literature on PV panels, as well as to identify barriers and enablers for PV panel design, collection, and recycling.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1016/j.sorms.2016.10.003

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.

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Abstract: The article focuses on the approach for crisis management rules in mass media industry in the U.S. Topics discussed include downsized of journalists in the U.S. and Great Britain since 2000, deployment of channels such as user forums and social media platforms like Facebook, and action taken by stakeholders to leverage key assets including frontline information, news channels, and ability to determine when and how a crisis ends.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1111/poms.12375

Abstract: Companies seek sustainability by combining the quest for profitability with the pursuit of social responsibility. Since socially responsible operations are characterized by the presence of multiple stakeholders with conflicting goals, applying classical optimization models would seem premature; we first need to capture the behavior of the entire system before attempting to optimize sub-systems to ensure that we focus on the ones driving the behavior of interest. Alternative methodologies are required if we are to gain insight into the most important drivers of socially responsible operations in order to apply traditional operations research (OR)/management science (MS) models correctly. This study presents an umbrella approach which combines different methodologies to tackle the complexity, unfamiliar context, and counter-intuitive behavior of socially responsible operations at the overall system level.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1111/poms.12215

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.

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Abstract: Large-scaled construction projects with their complex logistical processes of transport, handling and storage material to site, on site and from site bear significant environmental impacts. Such impacts include use of land, production of waste and emissions. In this paper, we investigate—by using a case study approach—how a well-planed implemented material management can affect efficiency in construction logistics focusing on logistics of disposal. The motivation behind this research is to examine the ecological and economic impact of construction logistics on waste management on site, when construction logistics is planned and determined in the early planning phase of a refurbishment project. We find that the implementation of a waste management plan can reduce environmental impacts, specifically increasing the efficiency of logistics of disposal by approximately 9 %, but it is associated with higher costs. The findings gained from this single case study research lead to case-study-specific recommendations for practitioners and regulators in the construction logistics area.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/s10551-013-1956-z

Abstract: This article seeks to model the agenda-setting strategies of stakeholders equipped with online and other media in three cases involving protests against multinational corporations (MNCs). Our theoretical objective is to widen agenda-setting theory to a dynamic and nonlinear networked stakeholder context, in which stakeholder-controlled media assume part of the role previously ascribed to mainstream media (MSM). We suggest system dynamics (SD) methodology as a tool to analyse complex stakeholder interactions and the effects of their agendas on other stakeholders. We find that largely similar dynamics of interactions occur among stakeholders in these cases, and that the costs for managements of maintaining their agendas steadily rises. We conclude that the “web of watchdogs” comprises a powerful reason for managers to engage in responsibility negotiations with their stakeholders.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/s11573-012-0643-3

Abstract: The world becomes increasingly complex and problems tend to be broader and multidisciplinary. At the same time, OR/MS research seems to be narrowing down, building even more on analytical models. The flip side is the risk that OR/MS is increasingly diverging from reality and that its dominant paradigm becomes insufficient to guide us in understanding and solving complicated real-world problems. A methodology that allows a broader insight into exploring a complex system’s behaviour is urgently needed to guide OR/MS analytical models. We propose system dynamics as a methodology to link reality with the dominant OR/MS paradigm of narrowly focused and highly analytical models.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2012.00573.x

Abstract: Regulatory measures that hold producers accountable for their products at end of life are increasingly common. Some of these measures aim at generating incentives for producers to design products that will be easier and cheaper to recover at the postconsumer stage. However, the allocation of recovery costs to individual producers, which can facilitate realization of the goals of these policies, is hindered by the practical barrier of identification and/or sorting of the products in the waste stream. Technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) can be used for brand or model recognition in order to overcome this obstacle. This article assesses the read rate of RFID technology (i.e., the number of successful retrievals of RFID tag data [“reads”] in a given sample of tagged products) and the potential role of RFID tags in the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) at current levels of technical development.We present the results of RFID trials conducted at a civic amenity site in the city of Limerick, Ireland. The experiment was performed for fixed distances up to 2 meters on different material substrates. In the case of white goods (i.e., large household appliances), a 100% read rate was achieved using an RFID handheld reader. High read rates were also achieved for mixed WEEE. For a handheld scan of a steel cage containing mixed WEEE, read rates varied from 50% to 73% depending on the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) metal mount tag employed and the relative positioning of the tags within the cage.These results confirm that from a technical standpoint, RFID can achieve much greater brand or model identification than has been considered feasible up to now, and thus has a role to play in creating a system that allocates recovery costs to individual producers.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.1832522

Abstract: This article considers how “stakeholder media” – media produced and controlled by stakeholders with the purpose of affecting public opinion or opinions of other actors toward issues or organisations – can exert powerful influences on firms by setting the public agenda and framing a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in ways desirable for those stakeholders. We observe that research on agenda-setting, which is very largely based on studies of the traditional news media, generally ignores the increasingly powerful reach and impact of media controlled by stakeholders. Hence, based on a case study of BP’s CSR campaign “Beyond Petroleum”, we propose a new model that addresses agenda setting by stakeholder media. The model captures distinct agenda setting as well as framing techniques used by stakeholder media to put pressure on BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding campaign. We thus aim to advance extant agenda setting concepts, by demonstrating how stakeholder media ultimately exert different and in some ways stronger influence on firms than traditional news media.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1016/j.ejor.2011.11.030

Abstract: Nowadays, especially in developed countries, the traditional collection of end-of-use products by scavengers has been displaced by formal waste recovery systems. However, scavenging still exists, especially in places with collection capacity shortages and/or low living standards. Besides its obvious social implications, the financial and environmental aspects of scavenging are certainly not trivial. Informal recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) by scavengers not only constrains profits of the formal system. In their effort to recover the value of end-of-use products, scavengers also pollute the environment if toxic substances leak when WEEE is not properly disposed of. We investigate the impact of scavenging on the operations of the formal recovery system of WEEE, under three regulatory measures, using system dynamics methodology. By using data from a real world closed-loop supply chain that operates in Greece extended numerical experimentation revealed that a legislation incorporating scavengers into the formal waste recovery system (instead of either ignoring or prohibiting their participation) is beneficial for economical, environmental and social sustainability.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1108/20426741111122420

Abstract: PurposeThe 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/approachCase‐based research was combined with SD methodology to examine the appropriateness of this methodology for use in humanitarian operations.FindingsHumanitarian 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/implicationsThe 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 implicationsDecision 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 implicationsThis 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/valueThis 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.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/s00170-009-2362-7

Abstract: Nowadays, the worldwide production of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is consequently increasing, reducing both resources and landfills. In this manuscript, we investigate the significance of the factors that comprise the environmental sustainability strategies (environmental legislation and green image) and the operational features of the closed-loop supply chain (CLSC) (chain's features, products' features and economic parameters), their interactions and the type of their impact on the environmental (availability of natural resources and landfill availability) and economical sustainability of a WEEE CLSC. We use an extension of a System Dynamics-based model of a CLSC with recycling activities introduced by Georgiadis and Besiou [J Clean Prod 16(15):1665–1678, 2008]. The developed model is validated using data from a real-world CLSC of EEE in Greece. Extended numerical investigation provides insights to the managers of the WEEE CLSC and the legislators with regard to the actions which can lead to sustainability.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.3390/su1030722

Abstract: Waste electrical and electronic equipment is one of the major world-wide waste streams triggering the emergence of environmental strategies. Environmental regulations, closed-loop supply chain (CLSC) activities and design-for-environment (DfE) practices are environmental friendly strategies being implemented by governments and industry. In this paper, we apply a System Dynamics model to a CLSC of electrical and electronic equipment in Greece. Extensive numerical investigation provides insights regarding the impact of different legislative measures, CLSC activities and DfE practices on the environmental (availability of natural resources and landfills) and economic sustainability.

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Abstract: Sustainable supply chains have emerged as an area of growing attention due to the development of "Ecological motivation" and Sustainable development, along with technological and economical trends. Ecological motivation is a strategic issue of increased importance for the profitability of sustainable supply chains due to companies' interest in their "green image" and environmental legislation. Ecological motivation manifests through a variety of issues that are investigated in this manuscript, including the take-back obligations and lower limits of recycling imposed by the environmental legislation, green consumerism and design for environment (DfE). In this work we examine the impact of the ecological motivation and sustainable development on the long term behavior of a simple system that can be encountered on a variety of real-world cases, in particular that of a single producer and a single product chain with recycling activities. The developed methodological approach captures these issues comprehensively through a dynamic simulation model based on the principles of the system dynamics (SD) theory. The proposed dynamic model can be used as a simulation tool for the conduct of various "what-if" analyses, by evaluating the impact of various regulatory measures and green consumerism on system performance. Finally, we discuss the potential value of the proposed modeling procedure in managing real world cases.

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Journal Articles (Professional)

Books

Book Chapters

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-29791-0_22

Abstract: Sustainability issues are becoming more complex. Private companies respond to the new challenges with the pursuit of corporate social responsibility. One way to contribute to society and to deal with the increased pressure is by engaging in cross-sector partnerships with nonprofit organizations. But under which conditions are these partnerships successful? Using a multiple case research design we study the challenges in the process of creating sustainable value for supply chains through cross-sector partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and nonprofit organizations operating in developing countries. The chapter answers two research questions: (1) What are the challenges affecting the success of cross-sector partnerships to create sustainable value? (2) How can these challenges be addressed by Operations Management (OM)/Supply Chain Management (SCM) research?

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Case Studies

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Abstract: This is part of a case series. The introduction of a new class of persistent herbicides is anticipated by DuPont as a game-changer for the firm and its customers. Instead, the product creates unforeseen damage to vegetation. The mobilisation of the customer base soon extends to the general public and regulators, leading to withdrawal of the product and ultimately the sale of the DuPont business unit concerned. Participants will learn that in the age of stakeholder-controlled media, the classic means of customer engagement are inadequate. Power has shifted from the firm to the customer, particularly in a B2B setting. The vehicle for this shift, the online forum, remains poorly understood and utilised by most firms. Participants will see that customer power can destroy entire business units.Learning objectives:1. Participants will learn that in the age of stakeholder-controlled media, the classic means of customer engagement are inadequate. 2. Power has shifted from the firm to the customer, particularly in a B2B setting. 3. The vehicle for this shift, the online forum, remains poorly understood and utilised by most firms. Participants will see that customer power can destroy entire business units. https://www.thecasecentre.org/main/products/view?id=122564

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