Abstract for:Policy Analysis of Material Convergence Challenges During Disasters

Material convergence, also known as unsolicited in-kind donations, poses significant challenges during disasters. The inflow of supplies and donations has both positive effects – such as making much-needed material available – and negative ones – such as jamming the supply chain. This study is the first to map the feedback processes influencing the dynamics of supply chain overwhelmed by unsolicited donations and to offer a comprehensive analysis on policies’ impact, shedding light on ways to address the challenges presented by material convergence. We divide policies into those that a)increase the amount of high priority material entering the system, b)decrease the impact of non priority material at the disaster site, and c)increase the processing and distributing efforts. We use system dynamics to build the model and explore the opportunity for theoretical generalization that the in-depth empirical study offers. Four policies perform consistently better regardless of disaster characteristics (dispersion and forecastability) or loci of decisions: admission control, donor education, pre-positioning, and quantity of human resources. Directly or indirectly, these policies reallocate human resources to handle high priority material. We show that a greater effort in implementing policies that address material convergence can provide more efficient relief for beneficiaries and outline future research.