Examination of service triads in humanitarian logistics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to explore service triads in humanitarian logistics (HL). The study uses agency theory to understand the dynamics between principal(s) and agent(s) and how contractual arrangements influence the service buyer–service provider alignment in humanitarian service triads.

This is a case study on a specific humanitarian service triad, with qualitative data being collected in a field study, utilising participant observation and in-context interview techniques for rich data collection.

The findings highlight the importance of both contractual and relational contracts between the service buyer, service provider and end customer – here donor (government), United Nations agency and implementing partner (IP). The alignment of the three parties in the service triad is more easily achieved through hybrid contracts rather than legal arrangements focussing on outcomes only.

Research limitations/implications
Results stem from a specific case study that constitutes a typical humanitarian service triad. An increased understanding of managing services and their service providers in the triadic context of outsourced service delivery adds to the body of knowledge in supply management.

This is the first examination of governance structures in contractual arrangements in a humanitarian service triad. The research fills the gap in humanitarian literature regarding the interaction of practitioners in HL, specifically, a service buyer organisation (a donor – government), a service provider (a UN agency) and the end customer (an IP). The research is field based and is grounded in empirical observations thus adding to the literature and offering insights to practice.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalThe International Journal of Logistics Management
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Europe
  • Case study
  • Buyer
  • Supplier relationships
  • Customer service
  • Logistics services


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