The role of power on procurement and supply chain management systems in a humanitarian organisation

Siawsh, N 2019, The role of power on procurement and supply chain management systems in a humanitarian organisation, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Business IT and Logistics, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title The role of power on procurement and supply chain management systems in a humanitarian organisation
Author(s) Siawsh, N
Year 2019
Abstract Disasters cause significant disruptions and require the intensive efforts of humanitarian aid organisations. These events damage perceptions of normality and, in doing so, elucidate hidden and normalised aspects of humanitarian response efforts for the individuals and organisations involved in relief supply chains. Supply chain management in a disaster environment is a complex system with a variety of relationships, decision-making structures, processes and interactions between and within the actors who are involved. With so many levels of the relief system involved, large amounts of information are required to control this system. While supply decisions are commonly understood as first actions to disaster relief, this thesis presents research that deepens our understanding of how power leverages the decision-making process of the purchasing function of humanitarian supply chains (HCS) in disasters.

Research into disaster relief operations and humanitarian logistics have grown both in situ and academically. Despite this interest, much of this research is typically focused on logistical challenges and HCS management practices and, to a lesser extent, the broad presence of power within that chain. Closer examination of the research reveals a lack of explicit theoretical focus on power and its implications on supply chains. The extant literature lacks an appreciation of the complexities in the humanitarian supply chain management (HSCM) system brought on by power, and by the politics of disaster relief operations.

This research rests on the Socio-Technical Systems Theory (STS) of organisations (Emery & Trist 1960), the French and Raven (1959) bases of power and the Leavitt’s Diamond (1965) as a model to assess and observe changes. The three theoretical frameworks, taken together, form the conceptual framework and serve as a lens to gather and interpret the empirical evidence collected through the case studies, through which to explore the ambiguity surrounding power in the decision-making process. These frameworks help to conceptualise the social world of the humanitarian aid, and its interaction with the efforts to provide relief operations in disasters. The underlying argument is that the actions and events that lead to decision-generation within humanitarian relief systems are politically motivated and facilitated by power dynamics because relief systems are mainly instruments used by organisational actors to achieve desired results. Hence, understanding this social world is important to aid analysis of the relations between people and actions in disaster relief operations.

Through investigation of power in relief operations, this research presents a theoretically deep, yet empirically rich, cross-case analysis of three global disasters in Nepal, Japan, and Jordan, to ground operations and practices of disasters. The findings of this research provide a compelling argument for the role power plays during the decision-making process in shaping various processes and practices of disaster relief. The findings also suggest that greater consistency is required in the way operational problems are framed and decisions are made, particularly in the purchasing governance. Hence, the decision-making process has been scrutinised as never before, and insights have been revealed that will help policy-makers to design mechanisms that facilitate more immediate disaster response.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Business IT and Logistics
Subjects Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Keyword(s) power
humanitarian aid
disaster relief operations
supply chain management
decision-making process
humanitarian organisations
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Created: Tue, 13 Aug 2019, 16:38:54 EST by Keely Chapman
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