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Competitive and Cooperative Inventory Policies in a Two-Stage Supply Chain

  • Gérard P. Cachon

    (The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

  • Paul H. Zipkin

    (The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

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    We investigate a two-stage serial supply chain with stationary stochastic demand and fixed transportation times. Inventory holding costs are charged at each stage, and each stage may incur a consumer backorder penalty cost, e.g. the upper stage (the supplier) may dislike backorders at the lower stage (the retailer). We consider two games. In both, the stages independently choose base stock policies to minimize their costs. The games differ in how the firms track their inventory levels (in one, the firms are committed to tracking echelon inventory; in the other they track local inventory). We compare the policies chosen under this competitive regime to those selected to minimize total supply chain costs, i.e., the optimal solution. We show that the games (nearly always) have a unique Nash equilibrium, and it differs from the optimal solution. Hence, competition reduces efficiency. Furthermore, the two games' equilibria are different, so the tracking method influences strategic behavior. We show that the system optimal solution can be achieved as a Nash equilibrium using simple linear transfer payments. The value of cooperation is context specific: In some settings competition increases total cost by only a fraction of a percent, whereas in other settings the cost increase is enormous. We also discuss Stackelberg equilibria.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.45.7.936
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 45 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 936-953

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:45:y:1999:i:7:p:936-953
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