Resilience in Humanitarian Supply Chains: A Focus on the Procurement Decisions

Sawyerr, E. 2021. Resilience in Humanitarian Supply Chains: A Focus on the Procurement Decisions. PhD thesis University of Westminster Applied Management

TitleResilience in Humanitarian Supply Chains: A Focus on the Procurement Decisions
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsSawyerr, E.

This thesis looks into how the need for resilience in humanitarian aid supply chains influences procurement strategy decisions. Increasingly, the need for resilience in supply chains has become undoubted and management researchers have prescribed diverse ways of pursuing it; not only so that supply chains may be better prepared to avoid, respond and recover from disruptions, but to also provide them with competitive advantage.

Considering that the procurement function has gone beyond a simple business function to include the strategic management of resources and suppliers when pursuing supply chain resilience (SCR), the role of procurement decisions cannot be understated, especially as suppliers could become significant sources of disruptions. This is even more pronounced in humanitarian supply chains where disruptions do not only result in the loss of limited resources but sometimes human lives as well. Due to this criticality for resilience in humanitarian supply chains and the limited research here particularly from a procurement perspective, this research collects qualitative data through semi-structured interviews and document analysis from 8 UK-based humanitarian organisations. The data is analysed to identify how these organisations pursue SCR formative elements from a procurement perspective and also how pre-contract procurement decisions relative to inter-organisational interactions are guided by the need for resilience.

Findings show that cross-training, flexible contracting, and financial resilience are critical to attaining SCR in humanitarian supply chains as they influence many of the identified formative elements. Differences are identified in the relationships between decisions taken under procurement strategy towards resilience from those in commercial supply chains, with monetary value and donor requirements being major influencing factors. Donor influence on procurement decisions in humanitarian organisations is identified to positively influence multiple formative elements including risk avoidance, sustainability, decision making and culture. It however inhibits flexibility and agility.

Contributions from this research include the presentation of a theoretical framework on procurement strategy decisions towards achieving SCR. This is then empirically tested in UK humanitarian supply chain context and a simple but useful framework to aid managerial decision making in the sector is provided.

KeywordsSupply chain resilience; procurement decision making; humanitarian logistics; donor influence.
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
PublishedMay 2021
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Related outputs

Developing resilient supply chains: Lessons from High-Reliability Organisations
Sawyerr, E. and Harrison, C. 2019. Developing resilient supply chains: Lessons from High-Reliability Organisations. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. 25 (1), pp. 77-100.

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