On-Demand Service Platforms

36 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2016 Last revised: 20 Sep 2017

See all articles by Terry Taylor

Terry Taylor

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: September 1, 2017


An on-demand service platform connects waiting-time sensitive customers with independent service providers (agents). This paper examines how two defining features of an on-demand service platform -- delay sensitivity and agent independence -- impact the platform's optimal per-service price and wage. Delay sensitivity reduces expected utility for customers and agents, which suggests that the platform respond by decreasing the price (to encourage participation of customers) and increasing the wage (to encourage participation of agents). These intuitive price and wage prescriptions are valid in a benchmark setting without uncertainty in the customers' valuation or the agents' opportunity costs. However, uncertainty in either dimension can reverse the prescriptions: Delay sensitivity increases the optimal price when customer valuation uncertainty is moderate. Delay sensitivity decreases the optimal wage when agent opportunity cost uncertainty is high and expected opportunity cost is moderate. Under agent opportunity cost uncertainty, agent independence decreases the price. Under customer valuation uncertainty, agent independence increases the price if and only if valuation uncertainty is sufficiently high.

Keywords: platforms, on-demand economy, self-scheduling capacity, queueing, service operations

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Terry, On-Demand Service Platforms (September 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2722308 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2722308

Terry Taylor (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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