Towards a characterization of humanitarian organization as Logistics Service Providers

Diego Vega, Christine Roussat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The humanitarian context has evolved through time, and so have the actors involved. Humanitarian organizations have improved their logistics developing specialised divisions - defined as Humanitarian Service Providers (HSPs) - capable of supporting their own activities, as well as offering logistics services to the humanitarian community. Nevertheless, academic literature on humanitarian logistics does not really explore that evolution, or the characteristics of these dedicated logistics providers. The purpose of this paper is to study the concept of HSP and to characterize these particular players in light of the Logistics Service Providers (LSP) literature.
This research is based on a two level content analysis based on annual reports from some of the most important Humanitarian Organizations (HOs) performed with the help of a Qualitative Data Analysis Software. First, a manifest content analysis identified the number of occurrences of logistics-related words and later, a latent content analysis studies the use in context of such words to characterize the nature of HSPs.
The main result of this research is that specialized logistics units from international humanitarian organizations have mainly the same characteristics as commercial LSPs. However, due to the characteristics of the humanitarian context, HSPs can have a wider range of dedicated services offered to clients (other HOs) than commercial LSPs.
Research limitations/implications
Research should complement this analysis with HO’s perspectives both from HSPs and clients in order to produce primary data.
Practical implications
The characterization of HOs as service providers can introduce a new actor to humanitarian supply chains, differentiating them from classic HOs to further investigate their role.
It constitutes a first attempt to define and characterize the concept of HSP, thus contributing to the ever-growing body of knowledge of humanitarian logistics research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNOFOMA 2016 - Proceedings of the 28th Annual Nordic Logistics Research Network Conference : 8-10 June 2016, Turku, Finland
PublisherTurku School of Economics
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-951-29-6517-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Logistics service providers (LSP)
  • Aid agencies


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