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Annals of Operations Research

, Volume 283, Issue 1–2, pp 961–1000 | Cite as

Defining and measuring the network flexibility of humanitarian supply chains: insights from the 2015 Nepal earthquake

  • Hossein BaharmandEmail author
  • Tina Comes
  • Matthieu Lauras
S.I.:Applications of OR in Disaster Relief Operations, Part II

Abstract

The efficient and effective response to disasters critically depends on humanitarian supply chains (HSCs). HSCs need to be flexible to adapt to uncertainties in needs, infrastructure conditions, and behavior of other organizations. The concept of ‘network flexibility’ is, however, not clearly defined. The lack of an unanimous definition has led to a lack of consistent understanding and comparisons. This paper makes a threefold contribution: first, it defines the concept of network flexibility for HSC in the context of sudden onset disasters. Second, it proposes a framework to measure network flexibility in HSCs. Third, we apply our framework to the 2015 Nepal earthquake case and provide evidence-based insights regarding how humanitarian organizations can improve network flexibility in HSCs. Our analyses for Nepal case show that delivery, IT support, and fleet criteria have the most influence on flexibility. Also, the application of our framework on the downstream network of nine humanitarian organizations shows low levels of network flexibility in all but one. This finding explains why several disruptions happened in relief distributions during the Nepal response.

Keywords

Humanitarian supply chain Network flexibility Measurement framework Field research 2015 Nepal earthquake 

Notes

Acknowledgements

(We are particularly grateful to guest editors and reviewers for their constructive comments.) We would like to thank all the interviewees for taking part in our research and sharing their valuable information and experiences. Last but not least, our special thanks to other research team members in Nepal field research.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ICTUniversity of AgderGrimstadNorway
  2. 2.Department of Multi-Actor SystemsDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Industrial Engineering DepartmentIMT Mines Albi- University of ToulouseAlbiFrance

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