Humanitarian Logistics: A Review and Scientometric Analysis

Humanitarian Logistics: A Review and Scientometric Analysis

Anil Kumar (Faculty of Management, VNS Group of Institutions, Bhopal, India) and G.S. Kushwaha (Department of Management Studies, MANIT, Bhopal, India)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/JITR.2018100104

Abstract

The concept of humanitarian logistics is evolving rapidly and gaining popularity in the research community. This research reviews the literature on humanitarian logistics for providing a thorough outlook into the field. In this study, Authors conducted a scientometric analysis of the literature published in 1998–2015 to empirically explore the important areas and key contributors of humanitarian logistics research and providing new outlook towards publication patterns, authorship pattern, major subject areas, research impact, and research productivity. By using scientometric analysis, the research critically evaluates 509 articles published over the past 18 years and identifies some of the major contributing authors, organizations and key research topics related to the field. In the last, the paper examines the validity of Lotka's law to authorship pattern in humanitarian logistics. The result found that the author productivity distribution data in humanitarian logistics do not follow Lotka's law. The findings of the study provide a new outlook on humanitarian logistics research.
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1. Introduction

The field of humanitarian logistics has grown in the recent times in terms of practice and research (Kovacs and Spens, 2011a, b). Due to urban expansion and climate change, the world population is more prone to face the impact of natural disasters. Natural disasters and man-made disasters have increasingly impacted communities and nations around the world in recent decades. Disasters tend to affect the poorer nations more because of the poor infrastructure, lack of readiness, and dense population patterns (Coppola, 2011). The past studies also indicate that the total number of natural disasters has striking growth over the last ten years (Tang, 2006). However, the field of humanitarian logistics has not developed expertise in handling disasters at the same pace, which has resulted in waste and inefficiencies and needed improvement in response services (Beamon and Kotleba, 2006a, b). According to Thomas and Kopczak (2005), humanitarian relief efforts are limited by a lack of key members, particularly skilled people in logistics and experts in affected areas and forecasts that over the next 50 years, natural and man-made disasters will increase by five times in number and severity. Thus, it is the duty of all of the people working in the area of disasters to save lives of affected people. To save lives various relief organisations are working in disaster-prone areas, but these relief operations are ineffective. The cost for running humanitarian relief operations efficiently and effectively is around 80% (Wassenhove, 2006). In such an environment, it becomes a necessity of a well-structured humanitarian aid with flexible response to minimize human suffering and make some serious efforts to do research, in the field of humanitarian logistics for developing an efficient system of planning, implementing and controlling stocks of goods as well as monitoring the information flow from its origin to the end so that the requirements of the last beneficiary can be fully met (Thomas & Mizushima, 2005).

Academic research of disaster operations management and humanitarian logistics is comparatively new but has grown in terms of quantity and relevance in the last few years (Thomas, 2004, Beamon and Kotleba, 2006a, b; Van Wassenhove, 2006a, b; Van Wassenhove et al., 2008). There was a scarcity of articles on humanitarian logistics till 2005 across all aspects of logistics research covering operations research to managerial aspects (Altay and Green, 2006; Kovacs and Spens, 2007; Natarajarathinam et al., 2009). Thus after 2005, a huge number of special issues of scientific journals have been published to the humanitarian logistics and encourage more research in this field. These special issues were in International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management (2010), Transportation Research Part E (2007), International Journal of Services Technology and Management (2009), International Journal of risk assessment and management (2009), Management Research News (2009) and the International Journal of Production Economics (2010) (Kovacs and Spens, 2011). This indicates that recognition of and researches into Humanitarian Logistics have evolved in the past 7-8 years.

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