Behavioral Operations Management: A Blind Spot and a Research Program


  • Acknowledgments: We thank Craig Carter, Karen Donohue, Matthias Ehrgott, Lutz Kaufmann, Christoph Loch, Özgür Şimşek and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on previous versions of this work.


Behavioral operations management, or simply behavioral operations (BOps), aims at understanding the decision-making of managers and at using this understanding to generate interventions that improve the operation of the supply chain. To do so, BOps imports knowledge from a number of fields such as economics, psychology and other social and behavioral sciences. We point out a blind spot in this knowledge: In BOps, the heuristics that people use are typically, although not always, viewed as a liability. The issue with this view is that it does not explain when and in what way heuristics can be an asset. We propose, as a research program for BOps, uncovering the conditions under which the heuristics that supply chain managers use are an asset, as well as the conditions under which they are a liability. We briefly discuss some research on heuristics in BOps and show how the study of quantitative models of heuristics can complement it.