Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center's 50th Anniversary and Humanitarian Supply Chains

This year, the Bellagio Center, on Lake Como, Italy is marking its 50th anniversary so congratulations are certainly in order! The Bellagio Center runs programs through the Rockefeller Foundation and it has released a special book commemorating the 50th anniversary. I have been privileged to have hosted two events at the Bellagio Center. The first event took place in March 2004, and consisted of a research team residency for two weeks on dynamic networks. The second event took place in May 2008 and was the "Humanitarian Logistics: Networks for Africa" conference, which convened academics, researchers, and practitioners from several continents. Both of these programs that I organized, and for which the Isenberg School of Management is also credited, are documented in this Rockefeller Foundation publication.

It is truly worthwhile to explore the special publications with luminous photographs on the Bellagio Center website that mark its 50th anniversary. You may marvel at some of the scholars featured (some of whom have certainly been in the news a lot lately). I remember telling my undergrads at the Isenberg School when my first proposal to the Bellagio Center got funded. One of my students, Cristina Calvaneso (who not only received a Leaders for the 21st Century Award from UMass Amherst, served as a student associate of the Virtual Center for Supernetworks, and who also has had wonderful professional career since graduating in 2004) told her grandmother about this. Grandma was very pleased (but mistaken) and thought that I was going to the Bellagio in Las Vegas!

Recently, there has been increasing interest from both researchers and practitioners surrounding humanitarian logistics and supply chains and I have been receiving more and more queries about our research and activities in this dimension. I have updated the website that was created explicitly for the Humanitarian Logistics: Networks for Africa conference to include information on my new book, Fragile Networks: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Synergies in an Uncertain World, with Q. Qiang, and on the book, Humanitarian Logistics, by Tomasini (who took part in my most recent Bellagio conference) and Van Wassenhove.

In addition, several associates of the Virtual Center for Supernetworks that I direct have just completed a major study on the design of supply chain networks in the case of humanitarian operations in which there is not only demand uncertainty but partnerships between/among organizations may present themselves. The study documents a new analytical framework, which is network-based, along with computer tools for scenario evaluations and simulations. This research was conducted with tremendous passion and determination since we are reading about the possible escalation of the flu come this fall and the measures that are being taken not only by vaccine and medicine manufacturers but by government, healthcare, and even educational officials. It is critical that top-level research on supply chains for humanitarian needs gets disseminated. Nevertheless, publishing and refereeing take time. At least, we know that we have done our part. Our Fragile Networks book, which includes material on humanitarian operations and supply chains, acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, which will soon be celebrating its special 10th anniversary!