Systemic barriers and enablers in humanitarian technology transfer

Ana Rodrigues Santos, Linda Wauben, Richard Goossens, Han Brezet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)



– The purpose of this paper is to collect information about barriers and enablers experienced by international experts when transferring medical equipment to countries affected by humanitarian emergencies and to discuss the suitability of the principles of “openness”, “interconnections” and “non-linearity” of systems to understand the nature of the barriers and enablers as described by the international experts.


– In this study, six semi-structured interviews were conducted with experts from humanitarian organizations. The interviews were based on a simplified model of the transfer of medical equipment adapted from supply chain literature. The model ensured that all the process steps undertaken by humanitarian organizations were considered. Afterwards, the interviews were transcribed and structurally analysed to derive barriers and enablers. Finally, the results were described in light of three theoretical principles of systems thinking.


– In total, 14 types of barriers and 12 types of enablers were uncovered that illustrate the complexity of transferring medical equipment in humanitarian emergencies. The paper concludes with a proposal for future research to investigate if, and how, an approach guided by systems thinking could help to create a designated space for the formulation of original, synergetic solutions that address the identified barriers.


– This study is the first to explore the specific logistic challenges implicit in the transfer of medical equipment in humanitarian emergencies with a lifecycle perspective. Furthermore, the concept of systems thinking is rather novel in the field of transfer of medical technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-71
JournalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Technology transfer
  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Complex Systems
  • Medical equipment
  • Low-resource settings


Dive into the research topics of 'Systemic barriers and enablers in humanitarian technology transfer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this