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Journal of Operations Management

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Supply Chain Management -- analysis


Studies of humanitarian supply chain operations contribute to efficient system designs for the delivery of goods and services to disaster- and conflict-stricken regions. However, our understanding of what happens to these relief goods and services after they are delivered is quite limited. Using a case study of the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan, we develop a theory of informal supply networks, whereby we uncover how refugee-led, informal supply networks emerge in the camp. We find that these supply networks are an aggregate of predominantly illicit—yet legitimate—channels and social relationships that support the economic exchange of goods and services between distinct actors or actor groups. We not only identify the cultural conventions and behavioral codes that govern ties between refugees—and between refugees and relief-related actors—but also define how these networks are configured. Considering these findings, we contend that the informal economic activities emanating from the refugee camp benefit the host community and enhance the resilience of the informal supply networks. As informal economic activities also improve the quality of life in the camp, camp authorities and host country governments should attend to informal activities as they create rules and policies for refugee resettlement.


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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published: Towards a theory of informal supply networks: An exploratory case study of the Za'atari refugee camp. Journal of Operations Management, joom.1151.

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