Operations, Information and Decisions Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

2011

Publication Source

Manufacturing & Service Operations Management

Volume

13

Issue

3

Start Page

329

Last Page

346

DOI

10.1287/msom.1100.0322

Abstract

We study how consumers with waiting cost disutility choose between two congested services of unknown service value. Consumers observe an imperfect private signal indicating which service facility may provide better service value as well as the queue lengths at the service facilities before making their choice. If more consumers choose the same service facility because of their private information, longer queues will form at that facility and indicate higher quality. On the other hand, a long queue also implies more waiting time. We characterize the equilibrium queue-joining behavior of arriving consumers and the extent of their learning from the queue information in the presence of such positive and negative externalities. We find that when the arrival rates are low, utility-maximizing rational consumers herd and join the longer queue, ignoring any contrary private information. We show that even when consumers treat queues as independently evolving, herd behavior persists with consumers joining longer queues above a threshold queue difference. However, if the consumers seek to minimize ex post regret when making their decisions, herd behavior may be dampened.

Keywords

herd behavior, queueing games, learning, regret, bounded rationality

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Date Posted: 27 November 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.