Professor Disney’s research interests involve the application of control theory and statistical techniques to operations management and supply chain scenarios to investigate their dynamic, stochastic, and economic performance. Stephen has a particular interest in the bullwhip effect, forecasting, and inventory management. Stephen has advised several of the world’s largest corporations on the bullwhip effect and his research has influenced the material flow of at least 1 in every 7 pounds of UK retail sales. He has worked with many companies in the UK, US, and Europe and on supply chains that operate globally.
Stephen Disney is currently a Professor of Operations Management within the Management department at the University of Exeter Business School. Recently he was the Head of the Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (SITE) department within the Business School from 2020-2022. Professor Disney is currently the Director of the Center for Simulation, Analytics, and Modelling. He is a member of COPIOR, the Committee of Professors in Operational Research and POMS, the Production and Operations Management Society. Stephen is an Associate Editor for the IMA Journal of Management Mathematics. He is also a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Production Economics, the European Journal of Operational Research, and a member the Editorial Review Board for the Business Logistics Journal. Professor Disney is currently editing a Special Issue on Uncertainty in Operations and Supply Chain Management for the Journal of Operations Management.
Previously Professor Disney worked at Cardiff Business School, where he was Head of the Logistics and Operations Management department from 2012-2015 and Director of the Logistics Systems Dynamics Group from 2016-2019. He has extensive experience of teaching in-class, on-line, and on-site to Undergraduate, Postgraduate, and Executive audiences. He recently spent 12 months on Research Leave at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Disney has previously held visiting positions at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and at Boston University.
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PhD entitled "The Production and Inventory Control Problem in Vendor Managed Inventory Supply Chains", 2001
MSc in Systems Engineering, 1995
BSc in Manufacturing Systems and Manufacturing Management, 1994
I am currently teaching the following courses at the University of Exeter:
In the past I have taught the following courses at the University of Exeter:
I have also taught the following courses at Cardiff University:
I taught the following courses at Boston University, USA:
I also deliver executive education and training, including:
I have recently developed a 1-2 day course for Exec-Ed delivery entitled “Setting the cadence of your pacemaker”. The course shows you how to use dynamic value stream mapping to solve the bullwhip problem. Topics covered include: replenishment strategy selection, forecasting, designing replenishment decisions, detailed scheduling, and supplier MRP. If you are interested in this type of training please contact me.
Many of the mathematical functions required in operations management (OM) scenarios are not available in Microsoft Excel. To address this issue, I have created an Add-in that adds some OM functionality to Excel. The Add-in can be downloaded here.
To install this Add-in:
When you have done this, the following functions should now be available in Excel:
Gives the inverse of the standard normal distribution function evaluated at x. This is a useful function when determining safety stock levels when net stock levels are normally distributed. This function has also been incorporated into my Shiny App for the standard normal distribution that is available here.
Gives the real solutions to the Lambert W function on the principle branch (when mode = 0) and the alternative branch (when mode = -1), evaluated at z. This function is useful for identifying stability boundaries (see Warburton et al. (2004)) and bullwhip expressions (see Warburton and Disney (2007)) in continuous time systems and also for identifying the Net Present Value of the cash flows in the EOQ problem (see Disney and Warburton (2013).
Calculates a critical bullwhip condition for ARMA(p,q) demand in the Order-Up-To policy with a lead-time of k periods. If CBk is positive bullwhip is generated. If CBk is negative bullwhip is avoided. This criteria even works with non-stationary demand. The maximum allowable k is set to 100 as otherwise it slows up the computer. More information can be found in Gaalman et al., (2018).
Calculates the Damped Trend forecast with a smoothing constant for the level of alpha, a smoothing constant for the trend of beta, a damping parameter of phi. More information can be found in Li and Disney, (2015).
Note: When phi = 1, Holts forecasts are generated. When beta = 0, exponential smoothing forecasts are generated.
Calculates the fill rate when demand and inventory is normally distributed. Both demand and inventory can be correlated, cross-correlated, and possibly negative in some periods which makes this calculation much more robust than many other other fillrate formulas. More information can be found in Disney et al., (2015).
Calculates the safety stock required to achive a target fill rate when demand and inventory is normally distributed. Both demand and inventory can be correlated, cross-correlated, and possibly negative in some periods which makes this calculation much more robust than many other other fill rate formulas. More information can be found in Disney et al., (2015).
I am keen to add more functionality to my Operations Analysis Add-in. If you have an idea of something useful to add, please contact me.
A curated list of eBooks relevant to the bullwhip effect. If you would like an eBook to be listed here, please email me.
This visual workbook shows the practical lean manager how to solve the bullwhip problem.
This is the online home of Demand Forecasting for Executives and Professionals, a book on demand forecasting. This book will be published by CRC Press in September 2023. You can buy the physical copy of the book from Amazon or Routledge.
This is an online version of the review paper Forecasting: theory and practice, which was last updated on 5 May 2023.
This textbook provides a comprehensive introduction to forecasting methods and presents enough information about each method for readers to be able to use them sensibly without going into technical detials.