To What Extent Do Workers’ Preferences Matter?

32 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020 Last revised: 6 Oct 2022

See all articles by Zhenzhen Jia

Zhenzhen Jia

Fudan University

Kejia Hu

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management

Jianqiang Hu

Fudan University

Vishal Ahuja

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Information Technology and Operations Management Department (ITOM)

Date Written: August 22, 2021

Abstract

Problem definition: Our research investigates how preference satisfaction, particularly intrinsic values such as psychological comfort, can improve workers' service efficiency and quality. Methodology/results: We utilize a unique setting to examine solely the intrinsic values driving workers’ service performance. In this setting, surgeons have operation room preferences that result only from intrinsic values because these operating rooms are instrumentally identical. Examining a comprehensive dataset linking surgeons’ performances to their preferences for operating rooms, we confirm and quantify the intrinsic benefits of preference satisfaction on service efficiency and quality. We also find that compared to workers without preferences, workers with preferences perform better if satisfied, but worse if unsatisfied. Moreover, we find that when workers are under heavy workloads or performing complex tasks, these preference effects are more pronounced. Based on our findings, we update the surgery scheduling framework by incorporating surgeons' preferences. Our counterfactual analysis shows that for the operations in our sample, satisfying surgeons’ preferences can reduce healthcare costs by over 4 million dollars, besides improving patients’ and surgeons’ welfare. Managerial implications: Our findings suggest that firms can utilize the intrinsic benefits of preference satisfaction as a lever to improve service performance without incurring the cost of instrumental changes. Moreover, firms can consider cultivating workers’ preferences if their systems have enough flexibility to satisfy them. When firms cannot satisfy the preferences of all workers, they can consider prioritizing workers with heavy workloads or complex tasks to maximize the improvement in service performance. Specifically for the healthcare industry, the scheduling system can integrate surgeons’ preferences for operating rooms into the optimization framework to achieve huge benefits in operation cost saving and patient welfare improvement at little expense.

Keywords: service operations management, intrinsic benefits, preference satisfaction, service efficiency and quality, scheduling

Suggested Citation

Jia, Zhenzhen and Hu, Kejia and Hu, Jianqiang and Ahuja, Vishal, To What Extent Do Workers’ Preferences Matter? (August 22, 2021). SMU Cox School of Business Research Paper No. 20-03, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Research Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3593991 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3593991

Zhenzhen Jia

Fudan University ( email )

Beijing West District Baiyun Load 10th
Shanghai, 100045
China

Kejia Hu (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Jianqiang Hu

Fudan University ( email )

670 Guoshun Road
Siyuan Building, Room 508
Shanghai, 200433
China

HOME PAGE: http://www.fdsm.fudan.edu.cn/en/teacher/preview.aspx?UID=91946

Vishal Ahuja

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Information Technology and Operations Management Department (ITOM) ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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