363-1129-00L  Humanitarian Operations and Supply Chain Management

SemesterSpring Semester 2020
LecturersS. Wagner, S. B. Thakur-Weigold
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


363-1129-00 VHumanitarian Operations and Supply Chain Management
Block course
30s hrs
24.03.09:15-16:00WEV F 109 »
25.03.09:15-16:00WEV F 109 »
26.03.09:15-16:00WEV F 109 »
06.05.09:15-16:00WEV F 109 »
07.05.09:15-16:00WEV F 109 »
S. Wagner, S. B. Thakur-Weigold

Catalogue data

AbstractAs both manmade and natural disasters are on the increase, the humanitarian sector has been growing accordingly. Because logistics typically comprises 70-80% of mission budgets, efficient operations and supply chain management are critical to maximizing impact. This course explores the emerging theory and best practices which address this need.
ObjectiveUpon completion of this seminar, participants will be able to differentiate between the commercial and humanitarian operational context and recognize the distinct phases of an intervention. They will be able to assess the humanitarian program as a system with constrained resources, and analyze logistics and supply chain processes fit to purpose. The course will involve both, research and practice, to ensure a realistic and rigorous understanding of humanitarian operations and supply chain management.
ContentThe seminar will review the strategies and core processes existing in a humanitarian supply chain, emphasizing how these are different from the commercial context, and explore success factors in practice. The instructional design will combine lectures and readings with videos, reports from the field, simulations and case studies.

1. Introduction to the Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS), and the specific requirements of the humanitarian sector, together with what these imply for operations and supply chain management. How does HumOSCM differ from the commercial context? We will review what it means to be a refugee, an IDP, or a person affected by a natural or manmade disaster, the key stakeholders in a humanitarian intervention, current trends in the sector, and the role of the logistics cluster.

2. Humanitarian interventions follow a lifecycle whose distinct phases create different requirements for logistics and other activities. We will review and discuss the characteristics of each phase and their respective strategies as well as fundamental types of intervention (emergency response vs. ongoing missions vs. development projects).

3. The activities in a humanitarian intervention must be understood as a system in which material can only be delivered properly if information flows. We will emphasize how collaboration and coordination are key to successful field operations, and experience the effects of broken feedback loops and poor system design.

4. Review of the core processes of the humanitarian supply chain: procurement, planning (preparedness), transportation (fleet management), inventory management (pre-positioning), donor management and reporting, and performance management.

5. Special topic / deep dive: Applying lean principles to humanitarian operations, with a report from the field.

6. Special topic / deep dive: How technologies (such as retinal recognition, drones, GPS mapping, cash programs), are changing the way aid is delivered, with a report from the field. When considering the impact of technological innovations, we will discuss the importance of process innovations as well.
Lecture notesThe course material will be made available for download on Moodle:


All organizational matters will be handled by the teaching assistant Lysann Seifert (Link).
LiteratureThere is no obligatory or recommended textbook.

Readings that you might consult during the course will be provided for download.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe final course grade will be a weighted average of the following:
- Study of a current humanitarian intervention or disaster scenario and presentation of an appropriate HumOSCM strategy, including written summary (group work): 60%
- Written summary of a case study analysis with findings and solution (individual work): 40%

The course is limited to 20 participants. Application and pre-registration is necessary.

Please register by January 24, 2020 at the latest via myStudies and send your CV and a one-paragraph motivation for taking the course to the teaching assistant Lysann Seifert (Link). All registrations will be assigned to the waiting list, and students will be informed about the selection outcome by February 10, 2020.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersS. Wagner, S. B. Thakur-Weigold
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


PlacesLimited number of places. Special selection procedure.
Waiting listuntil 09.02.2020
End of registration periodRegistration only possible until 26.01.2020

Offered in

Management, Technology and Economics MasterRecommended Elective CoursesWInformation
MAS in Management, Technology, and EconomicsElectivesWInformation