Essays on Service Information, Retrials and Global Supply Chain Sourcing
In many service settings, customers have to join the queue without being fully aware of the parameters of the service provider (for e.g., customers at check-out counters may not know the true service rate prior to joining). In such "blind queues'', customers typically make their decisions based on the limited information about the service provider's operational parameters from past experiences, reviews, etc. In the first essay, we analyze a firm serving customers who make decisions under arbitrary beliefs about the service parameters. We show, while revealing the service information to customers improves revenues under certain customer beliefs, it may however destroy consumer welfare or social welfare. When consumers can self-organize the timing of service visits, they may avoid long queues and choose to retry later. In the second essay, we study an observable queue in which consumers make rational join, balk and (costly) retry decisions. Retrial attempts could be costly due to factors such as transportation costs, retrial hassle and visit fees. We characterize the equilibrium under such retrial behavior, and study its welfare effects. With the additional option to retry, consumer welfare could worsen compared to the welfare in a system without retrials. Surprisingly, self-interested consumers retry too little (in equilibrium compared to the socially optimal policy) when the retrial cost is low, and retry too much when the retrial cost is high. We also explore the impact of myopic consumers who may not have the flexibility to retry. In the third essay, we propose a comprehensive model framework for global sourcing location decision process. For decades, off-shoring of manufacturing to China and other low-cost countries was a no-brainer decision for many U.S. companies. In recent years, however, this trend is being challenged by some companies to re-shore manufacturing back to the U.S., or to near-shore manufacturing to Mexico. Our model framework incorporates perspectives over the entire life cycle of a product, i.e., product design, manufacturing and delivering, and after-sale service support, and we use it to test the validity of various competing theories on global sourcing. We also provide numerical examples to support our findings from the model.
Senthil K. Veeraraghavan