Agility and resource dependency in ramp-up process of humanitarian organizations

Qing Lu*, Jie Wu, Mark Goh, Robert De Souza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The ramp-up in humanitarian logistics operations is a stage when the demand surges, often at the start of an emergency. In response, agility is a key strategy used by the humanitarian organizations (HOs). However, the HOs are constrained by their existing resources and have to respond in the ramp-up process under their resource dependency. The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework on agility-building strategies used by HOs for the ramp-up. Design/methodology/approach: This study applies both the dynamic capabilities perspective and resource dependence theory to humanitarian relief operations, and develops four testable propositions to explore the agility-building strategies of the HOs for the ramp-up process. A multiple-case study is conducted on six international HOs operating in Indonesia to verify them, in addition to an extensive literature search. Findings: The case study shows that the human resource management, pre-positioning, standardization and supplier management of the HOs are all related to their resources and environment in the ramp-up process. The authors highlight the practical differences between the few super large, resource rich and centralized HOs with the second-tier HOs. Research limitations/implications: Given the small sample size and single country as the site of study, some findings may not be applicable to the other HOs or in other regions. Practical implications: The propositions could be applicable to other HOs operating under similar environments, and potentially to the commercial enterprises operating in a highly volatile environment with severe resource scarcity. Originality/value: This study provides new insights into ramp-up operations and into how HOs build their agility and reduce their resource dependencies. Theoretically, the paper applies two established theories in the strategic management literature to a new field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-862
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Logistics Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

The authors express their gratitude and appreciation to all organizations and individuals supporting this study. The early version of this study has been presented on the 22nd International Symposium on Logistics (ISL2017).


  • Agility strategy
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Ramp-up process
  • Resource dependency
  • Strategic management


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