Empirical Newsvendor Biases: Are Target Service Levels Achieved Effectively and Efficiently?

A L Sachs*, Michael Becker-Peth*, S Minner, UW Thonemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Human decision making in the newsvendor context has been analyzed intensively in laboratory experiments, where various decision biases have been identified. However, it is unclear whether the biases also exist in practice. We analyze the ordering decisions of a manufacturer who faces a multiproduct newsvendor problem with an aggregate service-level constraint. We find that the manufacturer broadly exhibits the same biases as subjects in the laboratory and is prone to another bias that has not been identified before, that is, group aggregation. The bias can be attributed to the multi-product problem of the manufacturer, and refers to the observation that the service levels are not optimized for individual products, but rather for product groups. Our data allow us to analyze the performance of a manufacturer in detail and we find that target service levels are achieved effectively, but not efficiently. We provide rationales for the manufacturer's ordering behavior, discuss managerial implications, and quantify the financial benefits of debiasing ordering decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1839-1855
Number of pages17
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number4
Early online date21 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the department editor Elena Katok, the senior editor, and two anonymous referees for their constructive comments to improve the paper. We also thank the German Research Foundation for financial support through the research unit “Design & Behavior” (FOR 1371) and Germany's Excellence Strategy—EXC 2126/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Production and Operations Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Production and Operations Management Society.

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