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Trends and developments in humanitarian logistics ‐ a gap analysis

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Purpose ‐ The aim of this paper is to present current trends and developments in humanitarian logistics (HL) practice, research, and education, and analyze the gaps between these. The article serves as an update on previous literature reviews in HL. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper is primarily conceptual and develops a framework for analyzing trends and gaps between HL research, education, and practice. Data are compiled through keyword searches, publicly available bibliographies, and web sites of educational institutions, as well as drawing on material from practitioner workshops, tutorials, conference presentations, and personal communication with practitioners and educators. Findings ‐ Gaps are revealed in HL practice, research, education, as well as between these. Few education programs to date consider the skill needs of humanitarian logisticians, but future trends in practice and research can be used to develop them further. More empirical and practice-near research is called for at the same time as there is a need for comparative analyses, generic models, and theory building in HL. Research limitations/implications ‐ Any attempt to grasp current trends in a field is delimited by a lack of overview of the activities of an abundance of HL and fragmented research communities. The article advocates a broader view and openness across organizations and disciplines. Practical implications ‐ The gap analysis indicates not only trends but also gaps in HL practice and highlights the need to consider new societal pressures such as climate change and urbanization. Social implications ‐ HL is concerned with serving beneficiaries; thus, their welfare is at the core of the discipline. Originality/value ‐ Several articles have reviewed HL research before, but gaps between practice, research, and education have not yet been addressed.
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Keywords: Distribution management; Education; Gap analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2011

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