Decision-making and operations in disasters: challenges and opportunities

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Decision-making structures are commonly associated with the logistics challenges experienced during disaster operations. However, the alignment between the operational level and the decision-making structure is commonly overlooked. The purpose of this research is to provide an analysis of the fit of both levels and its impact on performance.
    The research is developed around a case study in Mexico. Through a review of the disaster management policy in the country, interviews, and secondary data, the article provides an analysis of the current decision-making structure, the logistics activities undertaken by authorities and the impact of the alignment between both components on logistics performance.
    The analysis suggests that several of the challenges commonly associated centralisation are actually rooted on its alignment with the operational level. Logistics performance is negatively affected by faulty assumptions, poorly planned procedures, inconsistent decision-making, and poorly designed structures. The case showed the need to align the operational level with a centralised perspective to increase responsiveness, flexibility and the interaction between different organisations.
    This article identifies the impact of the misalignment between the decision-making structure and the operational level on logistics performance, an area currently understudied. It moves from the current argument about the appropriate decision-making structure for disaster management to the identification of components to implement an efficient and effective disaster management system. Additionally, this paper provides recommendations for best practices in humanitarian logistics which are applicable to Mexico and other countries using a centralised decision-making approach.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1964-1986
    JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
    Issue number10
    Early online date24 May 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

    Bibliographical note

    © Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018.


    • Developing countries
    • Humanitarian logistics
    • decision processes


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