Supply Chains Systems: BEhaviour, Healthcare & Disaster Relief


When they work, supply chains and their associated networks are virtually invisible as they unobtrusively go about business. But when they do not, we quickly discover how reliant the world has become on the almost seamless flows of materials and services and the interconnectedness they provide. The recent coronavirus pandemic has exposed the fragility of these supply chains caused by unanticipated spikes in global demand and stockpiling of supplies by consumers, which resulted in a systematic disruption for consumers, health centres, businesses, and governments. The researchers at VheP have taken an unprecedented interdisciplinary approach to explain how human behaviour can be included into the modelling of supply chain systems in order to better estimate the impacts of disasters and pandemics on the health system and beyond. Previous work by the team has focused on numerous aspects of these systems across business, healthcare, and the military.

Research Focus

Until recently nearly all research into supply chain systems around the world had been disciplinary specific. However, our researchers are breaking out of this siloed approach by adopting behavioural and psychological theories into this deterministic field of study, which extends the beyond the traditional borders of the internal systems to include consumer and external shocks into the process. The group aims to lead the creation of this new field to deliver research that targets more robust and resilient supply chain systems, through the following themes:

Behaviour and Decision Making

A consideration of human behaviour is critical to properly understanding and efficiently managing supply chains and their impacts. There are many psychological and behavioural phenomena such as heuristics, biases and incentives which can all affect management decisions and consumer behaviour in ways that may seem irrational and unexpected if not understood or anticipated. A behavioural approach to supply chain systems incorporates these distinctly human factors resulting in a more optimal system and, when applied to healthcare, better outcomes for patients.

Supply Chains and Operations Management

Expertise in operations and supply chain management is necessary for the design, execution, and management of efficient supply chains. This is fundamental to safeguarding the future of Australia’s health system, economy, environment, and communities against disruptions from pandemics such as Covid-19, bushfires, floods, drought and other disasters. Efficient supply chain and operations management ultimately leads to improved service delivery and consumer satisfaction.

Disaster Relief

Managing supply chains can be challenging under ‘business as usual’ settings, however when disaster strikes this task becomes both more complex and more important. Factors unique to disasters and crises such as greater uncertainty of resources and greater reliance on donations and volunteers, which often lack supply chain management expertise, contribute to this increased difficulty in effective supply chain management in disasters. Supply chain management for disaster relief incorporates these unique factors into traditional supply chain knowledge ensuring optimal management under the most difficult situations, ultimately leading to substantial benefits in individual and global health.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Fields of Research (FoR) Classifications

350703 (Disaster and Emergency Management) - 350909 (Supply Chains) - 520402 (Decision Making)