Impact of External Situational Factors on the Agility of Humanitarian Supply Chains : A Case Study of Haiti Earthquake 2010

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi



Developing, emerging and developed countries are vulnerable to disasters and might require external assistance to cope with their aftermaths. It is forecasted that disasters will increase five-fold over the next 50 years. In an environment, which is characterized by many uncertainties, humanitarian supply chains are created to provide disaster relief in a highly complex and dynamic setting. This environment is unique for every disaster, where infrastructure, government, physical, socio-economic and security situational factors can either facilitate or restrict humanitarian operations. Agile supply chain principles enable humanitarian organizations to quickly respond to disasters.


The purpose of this thesis is to explore and analyze the impact of external situational factors on the agility of humanitarian supply chains and humanitarian organizations’ actions taken to address those external situational factors during the immediate response phase of an emergency event.


For the purpose of this study a combination of an inductive and deductive research approach was applied. The study was of exploratory and qualitative nature with a single case study in its focus. Empirical data was collected by conducting semi-structured interviews with nine respondents involved in the disaster relief operations of Haiti Earthquake 2010. Empirical findings were analyzed by using the template analysis.


External situational factors have a strong impact on capabilities enabling humanitarian supply chains to be agile during the immediate response phase. Humanitarian organizations are able to reduce the negative impact of external situational factors while in other cases the negative impact of external situational factors is further intensified by actions taken by humanitarian organizations. Furthermore, humanitarian organizations are able to utilize and enhance some of the positive impacts of external situational factors. However, the initially positive impact of some external situational factors may be reduced by inappropriate actions taken by humanitarian organizations. Therefore, understanding the context of the disaster’s broader environment is a prerequisite to an effective emergency response. 

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