Innovation in humanitarian logistics and supply chain management: a systematic review

Nezih Altay*, Graham Heaslip, Gyöngyi Kovacs, Karen Spens, Peter Tatham, Alain Vaillancourt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 global health crisis forced border closings, strained resources and tightened funding, forcing humanitarian organisations to innovate. This paper aims to identify gaps in the literature on innovation in humanitarian supply chains, and to develop an appropriate framework for future research through a systematic literature review. We use a systematic literature review approach and synthesise the discussion of innovation in humanitarian supply chains after reviewing 43 papers. The synthesis identifies the different contexts for and outcomes of innovation in humanitarian supply chains. Our findings indicate that research on innovation in humanitarian supply chains is an underdeveloped topic. Gaps we identified in regards to the humanitarian context are: (1) a limited discussion of the contribution by the beneficiary to the supply chain; (2) a limited discussion of reconstruction innovations; (3) a lack of study on field application for complex innovations; (4) the lack of discussion of the role of individual knowledge in humanitarian supply chain innovation and finally (5) a lack of study of position innovations where humanitarian organisations use supply chains as a way to market effectively towards donors.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalAnnals of Operations Research
Pages (from-to)965-987
Publication statusPublished - 04.02.2023
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • 512 Business and Management
  • humanitarian innovation
  • humanitarian logistics
  • COVID-19

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

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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