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Keywords:

  • humanitarian operations;
  • crisis management;
  • disasters of nature;
  • logistics;
  • efficiency-equity tension;
  • supply chains;
  • last-mile

The Genesis of this Special Issue came from the Board of the POMS College on Humanitarian Operations and Crisis Management (HO&CM). It was seen as a necessary initiative to define the field and examine research opportunities. This Special Issue shows that humanitarian operations pose challenges for P/OM researchers and practitioners that differ markedly from those of conventional supply chains associated with profitable enterprises. On the basis of the eight articles in this Special Issue, we have described and demonstrated the unique characteristics of the POM/HO&CM interaction. We have also identified those attributes that tend to overlap with conventional aspects of POM. In addition to wanting to be cost effective, the issue of equity fairness is pervasive in humanitarian operations, and so is the need to always base considerations on “last-mile logistics,” that is, getting aid to those in most need. Research is essential to determine how to train researchers to scout out and map the territory of the real problems. One of the most vexing problems is the lack of robust data in the humanitarian domain which is as richly varied as the types of disasters that can occur.