such as manpower (Tomasini and Van Wassenhove, 2009). Such pressure has called for the
use of appropriate strategies in the HOs to prepare ahead before the start of an emergency
(Scholten et al., 2010). In response, many HOs have started to apply commercial supply chain
management strategies and practices in their logistics operations for more effective
preparation. One of these strategies is agility, the organizational ability to respond to
external changes rapidly. It has been identified as a key to effective humanitarian logistics
operations (Oloruntoba and Kovács, 2015).
Notwithstanding that the literature has a consensus on the importance of agility strategy
in humanitarian relief operations (Scholten et al., 2010), there have been very few empirically
validated studies of agility in humanitarian logistics (Oloruntoba and Kovács, 2015). And
most of the scholarly works in the field are based on only a few super large global HOs such
as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Federation of Red Cross and
Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) (e.g. L’Hermitte et al., 2016). It has been proposed that the
IFRC’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is an example of the best practices for improving
the responsiveness of HOs ( Jahre and Fabbe-Costes, 2015), but its methods may not be
workable for a smaller second-tier HO with a decentralized structure and less funding.
There has been much interest in applying quantitative models to the fieldof humanitarian
logistics in recent years (Van Wassenhove and Pedraza-Martinez, 2012; Gupta et al., 2016).
Many sophisticated models havebeen developed on stock pre-positioning and facility location
in the preparation stage (e.g. Rezaei-Malek et al., 2016; Manopiniwes and Irohara, 2017).
However, those models may not be applicable for many of the second-tier HOs, as they
typically are resource-light with limited funding (Oloruntoba and Kovács, 2015). Therefore,
gaining an appreciation of how the different types of HOs build their agility internally and
leverage external resources to respond effectively in the ramp-up process would definitely
help to inform the body of knowledge and the community of practices.
Unlike the few centralized, super-large HOs linked to governments or multinational
organizations(e.g. the UN), second-tier HOsare typically decentralizedby region and country,
with more development programs being conducted at the country level. Being resource-light
without manydedicated resources for emergencyoperations, their budgets forpre-positioning
and ramp-up operations are limited. To compensate for the shortage of tangible resources,
these HOs have to rely moreon their intangible capabilities,leveraging resources from within
and outside of the organization in ramp-up operations. The dynamic capabilities perspective
(DCP) is a powerful theoretical tool in strategic management (Teece and Pisano, 1994;
Teece et al., 1997), which such HOs can apply to develop appropriate agility-building
strategies in their ramp-up operations (Oloruntobaand Kovács, 2015). In addition tothe DCP,
resource dependence theory (RDT) can assess the fit between the HO agility-building
strategies and existing resources, capabilities and constraints (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978).
Both the DCP and RDT wereapplied to the ramp-up process investigation in this study,and
that led to four testable propositions. They were then validated in a field study in Indonesia
involving total six HOs, one super-large and five second-tier ones.
Practically, this study extends the scope of the current HO agility literature. Several recent
humanitarian logistics studies have sought to integrate the preparedness stage with emergency
response for the most realistic solution (e.g. Manopiniwes and Irohara, 2017; Wang et al., 2018).
Most such studies have remained on the operational level and their findings are more suitable for
government agencies or for a few super-large HOs with loose resource constraints. This study, in
contrast, has focused more on the strategic responses of second-tier HOs under various resource
constraints. Its findings may therefore have greater applicability to the field of humanitarian
operations. They provide some new insights into ramp-up operations and into how HOs build
their agility and reduce their resource dependencies. The findings of this study can be applied to
the other second-tier HOs operating under similar environments, and potentially to commercial
enterprises operating in a highly volatile environment with severe resource scarcity.