Humanitarian logistics and supply chain standards. Literature review and view from practice

Claudia Paciarotti, Wojciech Piotrowicz, George Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The paper is focused on standards in humanitarian logistics and supply chain. Standards, implemented between organisations, allow improving the interoperability of humanitarian operations. The paper aims (1) to review a state-of-the-art approach to the topic by the academic community, (2) to evaluate the current use of standards among humanitarian organisations and (3) to investigate the perceived need for further and specific standards. Design/methodology/approach:To achieve the aims, the literature was reviewed; then a survey on 227 professionals from the humanitarian logistics sector was conducted.
Findings: Based on 227 responses, it is possible to conclude that most surveyed professionals recognise the need for and the importance of standardisation in humanitarian logistics, especially in areas such as procurement, distribution, medical logistics and logistics planning, which were perceived as critical areas that require standardisation.
Research limitations/implications: Practitioners and scholars were targeted via social media, through mailing lists and via communication from the practitioner organisation – the Humanitarian Logistics Association (HLA). While it provided good access to different groups of respondents, the response rate is not possible to calculate.
Practical implications: The findings confirm the high importance of standardisation, indicating areas and functions that should be standardised first. Standardisation may improve cooperation between different humanitarian actors, allowing better service provision for beneficiaries. Thus there are also potential negative impacts, i.e. impact on localisation, which should be overcome. Social implications: Results do not have a direct social impact; however, they stimulate research and work among practitioners on standardisation, which in turn could improve cooperation between humanitarian actors, thereby enabling a better humanitarian response in emergencies.
Originality/value: The majority of papers on standardisation use a qualitative approach. This paper applies a survey among a large network of humanitarian practitioners, capturing their view on the topic and perception of the need for standardisation. The work is descriptive; however, it could be used as a base for further studies related to humanitarian standards.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)550-573
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 19.07.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • humanitarian logistics
  • standards
  • humanitarian supply chains

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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