This article aims to identify optimal vehicle procurement policies for organizations engaged in humanitarian development programs and to derive general insights on the characteristics of these policies. Toward that end, we follow an inductive approach. First, we study the operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in three representative countries: Sudan, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia. Using a linear programming (LP) model primed with field data provided by the ICRC, we calculate the optimal vehicle fleet size and compare it with the policies actually implemented. Second, drawing from results of the LP model, we develop a stylized quadratic control model and use it to characterize the general structure of the optimal policy under different demand scenarios and operational constraints. After demonstrating that the results of the control model are consistent with those of the LP model in the specific context analyzed, we discuss the optimal policies and the applicability of the former as a practical tool for strategic asset planning.
Production and Operations Management, June 2014, vol. 23, n°6, pp.951-964