Coordinating humanitarian organizations in the procurement of urgently needed relief items is complex and characterized by decentralization and isolated decision-making. The decentralized coordination of associated tasks often results in the duplication of efforts and redundant/incorrect relief items supplies into single disaster regions, having negative impacts on the most vulnerable ones. This paper devotes attention to the challenges that exist in the coordination of procurement activities in relief supply chains and asks for improvement approaches to facilitate more efficient demand satisfaction in disaster situations. Therefore, the authors apply multiple case study research including expert interviews with procurement agents and heads of logistics from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), humanitarian start-ups and military logistics centers. Results indicate that a lack of incentives to cooperate, poor communication, unclear division of competences and noncompliance to standards and regulations constitute substantial challenges in procurement coordination. Moreover, expert interview results show that social media integration, procurement flexibility, cluster and collaborative coordination have potential to support improving the coordination of NGOs’ procurement activities. By presenting several theoretical propositions, this paper complements already existing literature and provides a reference point for future research. Practitioners can benefit from findings as they are provided with a guide that allows redesigning certain processes in procurement coordination.
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