Quotation Goßler, Timo, Wakolbinger, Tina, Burkart, Christian. 2020. Outsourcing in humanitarian logistics – status quo and future directions. International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management. 50 (4), 403-438.




Outsourcing of logistics has great importance in disaster relief. Aid agencies spend several billion US dollars every year on logistics services. However, the concept of outsourcing has not been established adequately in literature on humanitarian logistics, leading to a fragmented view of the practice. This paper provides a holistic perspective of the concept by constructing a conceptual framework to analyze both practice and research of outsourcing in humanitarian operations. Based on this analysis, we explore future trends and identify research gaps. The paper is based on a structured review of academic literature, a two-round Delphi study with 31 experts from aid agencies and a complementary full-day focus group with twelve experts from aid agencies and logistics service providers. The paper systemizes the current practice of outsourcing in humanitarian logistics according to a conceptual framework of five dimensions: subject, object, partner, design and context. In addition, it reveals ten probable developments of the practice over the next years. Finally, it describes eight important research gaps and presents a research agenda for the field. The literature review considered peer-reviewed academic papers. Practitioner papers could provide additional insights into the practice. Moreover, the Delphi study focused on the perspective of aid agencies. Capturing the views of logistics service providers in more detail would be a valuable addition. The paper establishes the academic basis for the important practice of outsourcing in humanitarian logistics. It highlights essential research gaps and, thereby, opens up the field for future research.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management
Citation Index SSCI
WU Journalrating 2009 A
WU-Journal-Rating new INF-A, STRAT-B, WH-B
Language English
Title Outsourcing in humanitarian logistics – status quo and future directions
Volume 50
Number 4
Year 2020
Page from 403
Page to 438
Reviewed? Y
URL https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJPDLM-12-2018-0400/full/xml
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/ijpdlm-12-2018-0400
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-12-2018-0400


Goßler, Timo (Former researcher)
Wakolbinger, Tina (Details)
Burkart, Christian (Details)
Institute for Transport and Logistics Management (Details)
Research Institute for Supply Chain Management FI (Details)
Competence Center for Sustainability Transformation and Responsibility WE (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
1121 Operations research (Details)
5300 Economics (Details)
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