Purpose - The purpose of this article is to investigate the nature of the humanitarian aid supply chain and discuss the extent to which certain business supply chain concepts, particularly supply chain agility, are relevant to humanitarian aid. Design/methodology/approach - The paper identifies elements of good practice in conventional business supply chains and applies them to the humanitarian aid supply chain, making use of published practice-based literature and web sites associated with humanitarian aid. Particular emphasis is placed on the concept of "agility" in supply chain management. A model of an agile supply chain for humanitarian aid is developed. Findings - Humanitarian supply chains have similarities with business supply chains, but there are significant differences. Many humanitarian supply chains have a short and unstable existence with an inadequate link between emergency aid and longer-term developmental aid. Unlike many business supply chains, typical emergency aid appeals assign inventory to a particular destination at the supply chain source. Practical implications - This research note is a starting-point for empirical studies to test the agile humanitarian supply chain model. Originality/value - This paper seeks to integrate humanitarian aid practice with concepts in the academic supply chain literature. In particular, proposes that humanitarian donors need convincing of the value of supply chain processes.
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