Facts about the course

Study points:
Responsible department:
Faculty of Logistics
Course Leader:
Berit Irene Helgheim
Lecture Semester:
Teaching language:
½ year

LOG904-151 Disaster Relief Operations Management: A Case Study Approach (Autumn 2018)

About the course

Disaster relief operations have gained increased attention from the academic community in recent years as researchers, motivated in particular by a high number of sudden-onset, major catastrophes have sought to make sense of aspects concerning (but not limited to) operations management, performance measurement, logistics and transportation, demand forecasting, inventory management and quality control.

Large-scale disasters (e.g., the Asian tsunami in 2004, the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, and the Nepal Earthquake in 2015, referred to by some as ¿CNN disasters¿) are frequently defined and measured by factors such as the ferocity of the event, the scale of loss-of-life, economic cost, and scale of the response.  But, regardless of how their impact is measured, one thing remains constant: sudden demand for assistance is augmented on the humanitarian system, heaping pressure on operations and supply chain systems to ramp up in order to save lives.

The humanitarian system is complex and is characterised by multifaceted relationships and various stakeholder approaches.  The ¿business of humanitarianism¿ drives competition for funds and publicity and stakeholders often operate in isolation, a phenomenon articulated by one former MSF supply chain director as ¿holons¿ (as in Koestler¿s (1967) description of ¿self-reliant and autonomous units, dependent on the greater whole of which they are a part¿).

Understanding the challenges and enhancing the effectiveness of disaster relief and humanitarian work - through the related lenses of process management and performance measurement - is regarded as vital to enhancing the efficacy of future relief efforts.

Topics covered.

  1. Operations and Performance Management.
  2. The Resource-Based View (RBV) and Dynamic Capabilities.
  3. Case Study #1: ¿ShelterBox: A Decade of Disaster Relief¿.
  4. Case Study #2: ¿MSF: ¿Uncharted Waters¿¿.


The course is connected to the following study programs

Recommended requirements

No previous knowledge of disaster relief operations is required for this seminar, however knowledge of the underpinning theories of operations, supply chain and logistics management will be helpful, as will any knowledge of customs environments.

The student's learning outcomes after completing the course


Students will be able to apply the principles of operations management, including supply chain management, to the disaster relief sector through lectures and case study discussions.

Students will also consider the founding principles of the resource-based view (RBV) to the disaster relief sector, and extend their understanding to include the emerging dynamic capabilities theory which considers fast-changing and uncertain environments.

Seminars will encourage active student participation through case study discussion.  Pre-set reading is required outside of the scheduled classroom time.


  • Form of assessment: Written school assessment
  • Proportion: 100%
  • Duration: 3 Hours
  • Grouping: Individual
  • Grading scale: Letter (A - F)
  • Support material: Only general dictionary in mother tongue/Norwegian/English in paper version


To be advised in advance of teaching.

Last updated from FS (Common Student System) Jan. 23, 2020 3:30:10 AM