The mid-1990s heralded a new era in humanitarian operations. In the wake of criticism regarding the response to high-profile disasters, humanitarian organisations began to focus increasingly on improving response delivery through improved logistics. Fleet management was an integral part of this process. As Luk Van Wassenhove, Academic Director of INSEAD Social Innovation Centre, points out, “Without (vehicle) fleets, humanitarian organisations cannot respond”.
The Fleet Forum, according to Palle Maschoreck, Business Development Specialist at Kjaer Group, “brings knowledge to the table”. The INSEAD Humanitarian Research Group (HRG) has been involved with the Forum since 2004, looking at how cross-learning between the private and humanitarian sectors can have a real benefit for both parties.
As part of the project, INSEAD HRG has carried out field research with Fleet Forum members International Committee of the Red Cross, World Vision International, IFRC and WFP in Africa and the Middle East. Additionally, HRG has developed solutions with management teams in Europe, and examined the development of a fleet management product by one of Fleet Forum’s private partners. To date, findings from this research have been presented at academic conferences such as Production and Operations Management Society, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, and the London Business School Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference, where it won the best paper award in 2008. However, in order to ensure the greatest level of impact on the sector itself, it has also been presented at practitioner conferences such as Harvard Business School, the Inter-Agency Procurement Group, and the Fleet Forum.
There are eight Millennium Development Goals: eradicate extreme poverty; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. In the process of delivering their programmes, humanitarian organisations have a direct impact on many of these goals. The aim of the Fleet Forum reflects this and as such, presentations from leading experts in the field examined, greening fleets to reduce environmental impact, improved safety standards to avoid widespread accidents, pooling vehicles to reduce costs and increase efficiency, fair processes to improve management practices, and the benefits of multi-sector partnerships in achieving real results. More than ever, the conference highlighted INSEAD’s valuable role in generating and disseminating relevant knowledge to effect real change.
INSEAD HRG’s research on Fleet Management in the Humanitarian Sector continues. Hosting the Fleet Forum conference was one landmark in this ongoing journey.
The seventh annual Fleet Forum conference was held at INSEAD’s Europe campus in Fontainebleau in mid-March.
Orla Stapleton is a Research Associate with the INSEAD Humanitarian Research Group.
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