Annals of Operations Research

, Volume 283, Issue 1–2, pp 543–560 | Cite as

Theory in humanitarian operations research

  • Richard OloruntobaEmail author
  • Gazi Farid Hossain
  • Beverly Wagner
Applications of OR in Disaster Relief Operations


Academic research on humanitarian operations (HO) is growing (Anaya-Arenas et al. in Ann Oper Res 223(1):53–79, 2014; Burkart et al. in Ann Oper Res 1–21, 2016; Duhamel et al. in Ann Oper Res 1–21, 2016). However, attention to and use of relevant theories in associated research is limited (Richey Jr in Int J Phys Distrib Logist Manag 39(7):619–628, 2009). Theories are valuable for cultivating a deeper scholarly understanding of a concept such as humanitarian operations. As such, this paper advocates increased deployment of theory in humanitarian operations research. The paper suggests and analyzes three social science and management theories as worthy of consideration by scholars and practitioners. The paper generates and stimulates new theory driven research ideas and outlines potential directions for future theoretically rigorous investigations of the practice of operations management in humanitarian contexts.


Humanitarian operations Humanitarian logistics Humanitarian supply chains Theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Oloruntoba
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gazi Farid Hossain
    • 1
  • Beverly Wagner
    • 2
  1. 1.Newcastle Business SchoolThe University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Marketing, Stenshouse WingUniversity of Strathclyde Business SchoolGlasgowUK

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