An Empirical Investigation of Dynamic Ordering Policies
Management Science (Forthcoming)
32 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2011 Last revised: 24 Mar 2015
Date Written: October 3, 2014
Adaptive base stock policy is a well-known tool for managing inventories in non-stationary demand environments. This paper presents empirical tests of this policy using aggregate, firm-level data. First, we extend a single-item adaptive base stock policy in previous literature to a multi-item case. Second, we transform the policy derived for the multi-item case to a regression model that relates firm-level inventory purchases to firm-level sales and changes in sales forecasts. We focus on two research questions: Can the adaptive base stock policy explain cross-sectional ordering behaviors under sales growth? To the extent that the adaptive base stock policy fails to explain ordering behaviors under sales growth, are there frictions that explain such a finding? Our empirical results demonstrate disparities in ordering behaviors between firms experiencing high and moderate sales growth. Contrary to theoretical prediction, this implies inventory purchases are a function of not only current sales and changes in sales forecasts, but also past sales growth. As potential explanations for this departure from theoretical prediction, we show that both future demand dynamics and inventory holding risks depend on past sales growth. In addition, we find that firms' inventory holding risks may also be affected by purchasing constraints imposed by supply chain contracts. Our results provide managerial implications for practitioners and inform future theoretical research.
Keywords: inventory, write-downs, obsolescence, sales growth, ordering policy
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