The evolving frontiers of the bullwhip problem


The amplification of the variance of order rates in multi-echelon systems, commonly known as ‘demand amplification’ or the ‘bullwhip effect’ is a widely discussed topic in the field of supply chain management. While a range of contributions have been made on how to counter this costly phenomenon, this paper shows why – after half a century of academic study – the problem still presents new challenges to the operations research community. In our historical review we have identified three distinct research domains that have addressed the problem – discrete time, the continuous time, and the frequency domain approaches – and discuss how these three approaches have interacted and influenced each other over time, consistently ‘pushing’ the frontiers of the bullwhip problem.

EurOMA International Conference on Operations and Global Competitiveness, 19th-22nd June, Budapest, Hungary, 707-716