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Price and Service Discrimination in Queuing Systems: Incentive Compatibility of Gc\mu Scheduling

Listed author(s):
  • Jan A. Van Mieghem

    ()

    (Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208)

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    This article studies the optimal prices and service quality grades that a queuing system---the "firm"---provides to heterogeneous, utility-maximizing customers who measure quality by their experienced delay distributions. Results are threefold: First, delay cost curves are introduced that allow for a flexible description of a customer's quality sensitivity. Second, a comprehensive executable approach is proposed that analytically specifies scheduling, delay distributions and prices for arbitrary delay sensitivity curves. The tractability of this approach derives from porting heavy-traffic Brownian results into the economic analysis. The generalized c\mu (Gc\mu ) scheduling rule that emerges is dynamic so that, in general, service grades need not correspond to a static priority ranking. A benchmarking example investigates the value of differentiated service. Third, the notions of grade and rate incentive compatibility (IC) are introduced to study this system under asymmetric information and are established for Gc\mu scheduling when service times are homogeneous and customers atomistic. Grade IC induces correct grade choice resulting in perfect service discrimination; rate IC additionally induces centralized-optimal rates. Dynamic Gc\mu scheduling exhibits negative feedback that, together with time-dependent pricing, can also yield rate incentive compatibility with heterogeneous service times. Finally, multiplan pricing, which offers all customers a menu with a choice of multiple rate plans, is analyzed.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.46.9.1249.12238
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 46 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 1249-1267

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:46:y:2000:i:9:p:1249-1267
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    1. Groves, Theodore & Loeb, Martin, 1975. "Incentives and public inputs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 211-226, August.
    2. Naor, P, 1969. "The Regulation of Queue Size by Levying Tolls," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(1), pages 15-24, January.
    3. Albert Y. Ha, 1998. "Incentive-Compatible Pricing for a Service Facility with Joint Production and Congestion Externalities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(12-Part-1), pages 1623-1636, December.
    4. Bradford, Richard M., 1996. "Pricing, routing, and incentive compatibility in multiserver queues," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 226-236, March.
    5. De Vany, Arthur S & Saving, Thomas R, 1983. "The Economics of Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(6), pages 979-1000, December.
    6. Lui, Francis T, 1985. "An Equilibrium Queuing Model of Bribery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 760-781, August.
    7. Edward Clarke, 1971. "Multipart pricing of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 17-33, September.
    8. Yasushi Masuda & Seungjin Whang, 1999. "Dynamic Pricing for Network Service: Equilibrium and Stability," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(6), pages 857-869, June.
    9. Robert J. Dolan, 1978. "Incentive Mechanisms for Priority Queuing Problems," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 421-436, Autumn.
    10. Reitman, David, 1991. "Endogenous Quality Differentiation in Congested Markets," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(6), pages 621-647, December.
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