Humanitarian logistics: the role of logistics service providers

Diego Vega, Christine Roussat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, logistics service providers (LSPs) have become important players in the humanitarian field, providing support for NGOs and governments when they respond to major disasters. However, the academic literature on humanitarian logistics has not really explored the roles that LSPs play in relief supply chains. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of LSPs in humanitarian relief.

The research uses a two-stage exploratory approach: first, it systematically reviews the humanitarian logistics literature to see the extent to which LSPs are taken into account. Then it analyses the web sites of leading LSPs to examine how they communicate about their role in humanitarian relief.

This research produces some surprising findings. While the academic literature seems to neglect the roles of LSPs in humanitarian logistics, some major third-party firms highlight their roles in relief networks. A number of research propositions are presented describing emerging roles for LSPs in relief supply chains.

Research limitations/implications
This paper focuses on academic humanitarian logistics literature; a review of practitioner articles and the LSP literature might also be relevant. The web site analysis is based on corporate communication which may contain bias. Further research should add to this work with NGO/government perspectives and produce primary data in order to demonstrate the external validity of the research propositions.

Practical implications
The research identifies different roles LSPs could play in humanitarian supply chains, suggesting opportunities for new business lines.

The main contributions of this paper are to explore the roles LSPs could play in humanitarian logistics and to bring a new perspective to humanitarian logistics research.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)352-375
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 05.05.2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Outsourcing
  • Disasters
  • Aid agencies
  • Cross-sector collaboration
  • Third-party


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