Ration Gaming and the Bullwhip Effect

31 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2015 Last revised: 13 May 2018

See all articles by Robert Bray

Robert Bray

Kellogg School of Management

Yuliang Oliver Yao

University of Delaware

Yongrui Duan

Tongji University - School of Economics and Management

Jiazhen Huo

Tongji University

Date Written: April 26, 2018


We model a single-supplier, 73-store supply chain as a dynamic discrete choice problem. We estimate the model with transaction-level data, spanning 3,251 products and 1,370 days. We find two interrelated phenomena: the bullwhip effect and ration gaming. To establish the bullwhip effect, we show that shipments from suppliers are more variable than sales to customers. To establish ration gaming, we show that upstream scarcity triggers inventory runs, with stores simultaneously scrambling to amass private stocks in anticipation of impending shortages. These inventory runs increase our bullwhip measures by between 6% and 19%, which corroborates Lee et al.'s (1997) hypothesis that ration gaming causes the bullwhip effect.

Keywords: bullwhip effect; ration gaming; (s, S) inventory policies; dynamic discrete choice; empirical supply chain management; structural estimation.

Suggested Citation

Bray, Robert and Yao, Yuliang and Duan, Yongrui and Huo, Jiazhen, Ration Gaming and the Bullwhip Effect (April 26, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2664930 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2664930

Robert Bray (Contact Author)

Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Yuliang Yao

University of Delaware ( email )

Newark, DE 19711
United States

Yongrui Duan

Tongji University - School of Economics and Management ( email )

Jiazhen Huo

Tongji University ( email )

1239 Siping Road
Shanghai, 200092

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