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The Stabilizing Effect of Inventory in Supply Chains


  • Manuel P. Baganha

    (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal)

  • Morris A. Cohen

    (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)


This paper presents a hierarchical model framework for the analysis of the stabilizing effect of inventories in multiechelon manufacturing/distribution supply chains. This framework is used to compare the variance of demand to the variance of replenishment orders at different echelons of the system (e.g., retailer, wholesaler). Empirical data and experience with management games suggest that, in most industries, inventory management policies can have a destabilizing effect by increasing the volatility of demand as it passes up through the chain (the “bullwhip” effect). Our model helps to explain these observations and indicates mechanisms that can promote stabilization. The analysis results also define sufficient conditions for the existence of stabilization and relate these conditions to the optimality of myopic control policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Manuel P. Baganha & Morris A. Cohen, 1998. "The Stabilizing Effect of Inventory in Supply Chains," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 46(3-supplem), pages 72-83, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:oropre:v:46:y:1998:i:3-supplement-3:p:s72-s83
    DOI: 10.1287/opre.46.3.S72

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles C. Holt & Franco Modigliani & John P. Shelton, 1968. "The Transmission of Demand Fluctuations Through a Distribution and Production System, the Tv-Set Industry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 1(4), pages 718-739, November.
    2. Caplin, Andrew S, 1985. "The Variability of Aggregate Demand with (S, s) Inventory Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1395-1409, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Xiaolong, 2007. "Inventory control under temporal demand heteroscedasticity," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 182(1), pages 127-144, October.
    2. M A Krajewska & H Kopfer & G Laporte & S Ropke & G Zaccour, 2008. "Horizontal cooperation among freight carriers: request allocation and profit sharing," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 59(11), pages 1483-1491, November.
    3. Fangruo Chen & Jing-Sheng Song, 2001. "Optimal Policies for Multiechelon Inventory Problems with Markov-Modulated Demand," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 49(2), pages 226-234, April.
    4. Frank Chen & Jennifer K. Ryan & David Simchi‐Levi, 2000. "The impact of exponential smoothing forecasts on the bullwhip effect," Naval Research Logistics (NRL), John Wiley & Sons, vol. 47(4), pages 269-286, June.
    5. Rachel Croson & Karen Donohue, 2002. "Experimental Economics and Supply-Chain Management," Interfaces, INFORMS, vol. 32(5), pages 74-82, October.
    6. K. Devika & A. Jafarian & A. Hassanzadeh & R. Khodaverdi, 2016. "Optimizing of bullwhip effect and net stock amplification in three-echelon supply chains using evolutionary multi-objective metaheuristics," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 242(2), pages 457-487, July.
    7. Özelkan, Ertunga C. & Lim, Churlzu & Adnan, Ziaul Haq, 2018. "Conditions of reverse bullwhip effect in pricing under joint decision of replenishment and pricing," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 200(C), pages 207-223.
    8. Jian Yang & Xiaolong Zhang, 2009. "Coordinated dynamic control of marketing and production," Naval Research Logistics (NRL), John Wiley & Sons, vol. 56(4), pages 348-365, June.
    9. Durowoju, Olatunde A. & Chan, Hing Kai & Wang, Xiaojun & Akenroye, Temidayo, 2021. "Supply chain redesign implications to information disruption impact," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 232(C).
    10. Ying Rong & Lawrence V. Snyder & Zuo‐Jun Max Shen, 2017. "Bullwhip and reverse bullwhip effects under the rationing game," Naval Research Logistics (NRL), John Wiley & Sons, vol. 64(3), pages 203-216, April.

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