The Quantity Flexibility Contract and Supplier-Customer Incentives
Consider a supply chain consisting of two independent agents, a supplier (e.g., a manufacturer) and its customer (e.g., a retailer), the latter in turn serving an uncertain market demand. To reconcile manufacturing/procurement time lags with a need for timely response to the market, such supply chains often must commit resources to production quantities based on forecasted rather than realized demand. The customer typically provides a planning forecast of its intended purchase, which does not entail commitment. Benefiting from overproduction while not bearing the immediate costs, the customer has incentive to initially overforecast before eventually purchasing a lesser quantity. The supplier must in turn anticipate such behavior in its production quantity decision. This individually rational behavior results in an inefficient supply chain. This paper models the incentives of the two parties, identifying causes of inefficiency and suggesting remedies. Particular attention is given to the Quantity Flexibility (QF) contract, which couples the customer's commitment to purchase no less than a certain percentage below the forecast with the supplier's guarantee to deliver up to a certain percentage above. Under certain conditions, this method can allocate the costs of market demand uncertainty so as to lead the individually motivated supplier and customer to the systemwide optimal outcome. We characterize the implications of QF contracts for the behavior and performance of both parties, and the supply chain as a whole.
Volume (Year): 45 (1999)
Issue (Month): 10 (October)
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