Lessons learned from humanitarian logistics to manage supply chain disruptions

Gyöngyi Kovacs*, Ioanna Falagara Sigala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


The Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) outbreak affects not just populations but also global and local economies and supply chains. The outbreak itself has impacted on production lines and manufacturing capacities. In response to the outbreak, policies have been put in place that block the movement of people as well as materials, causing supply chain disruptions.
Mainstream supply chain management has been at a loss in responding to these disruptions, mostly due to a dominant focus on minimising costs for stable operations, while following lean, just-in-time and zero inventory approaches. On the other hand, pandemic response supply chains, and their related supply chain disruptions, share many characteristics with disaster response, and thereby with humanitarian supply chains. Much can thus be learned from humanitarian supply chains for managing pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. What is more, facing, and managing, supply chain disruptions can be considered the new norm also in light of other disruptive forces such as climate change, or financial or political crises.
This article therefore presents lessons learned from humanitarian supply chains that help mitigate and overcome supply chain disruptions. These lessons relate to preparedness, mobilisation, but also standardisation, innovation, and collaboration. Together, they brace organisations, supply chains, and societies, to manage current and future disruptions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16964444
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15.12.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • COVID-19
  • supply chain disruption
  • humanitarian supply chain
  • humanitarian logistics
  • medical supply chain
  • pandemic
  • epidemic
  • climate change

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

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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