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Abstract

Supply Chain Management (SCM) is seldom more difficult than during disaster relief efforts. As supply chains quickly form in response to a disaster, a slow information flow presents a major hindrance to coordinating the allocation of resources necessary for disaster relief efforts. This paper identifies impediments to the flow of information through supply chains following large scale and catastrophic disasters. Given the scarce body of literature on this subject, a grounded theory case study was conducted to examine an extreme case. The study concentrates on the efforts of multiple organizations and individuals that provided relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which battered the Gulf Coast of the southeastern United States in late 2005. Data was gathered from diverse sources, including government agencies, profit and non-profit organizations, and individuals, during and after the disaster. Based on our data analysis, we not only identify information flow impediments (i.e., inaccessibility, inconsistent data and information formats, inadequate stream of information, low information priority, source identification difficulty, storage media misalignment, unreliability, and unwillingness), but also identify likely sources of these impediments, and examine their consequences to organizations’ disaster recovery efforts. Our findings suggest some potential design principles for devising solutions capable of reducing or alleviating the impact of information flow impediments in future disasters.

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