Multi-sourcing and Miscoordination in Supply Chain Networks

Multi-sourcing and Miscoordination in Supply Chain Networks

By
Kostas Bimpikis, Douglas Fearing, Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi
Operations Research (forthcoming).
2018

This paper studies sourcing decisions of firms in a multi-tier supply chain when procurement is subject to disruption risk. We argue that features of the production process that are commonly encountered in practice (including differential production technologies and financial constraints) may result in the formation of inefficient supply chains, owing to the misalignment of the sourcing incentives of firms at different tiers. We provide a characterization of the conditions under which upstream suppliers adopt sourcing strategies that are sub-optimal from the perspective of firms further downstream. Our analysis highlights that a focus on optimizing procurement decisions in each tier of the supply chain in isolation may not be sufficient for mitigating risks at an aggregate level. Rather, we argue that a holistic view of the entire supply network is necessary to properly assess and secure against disruptive events. Importantly, the misalignment we identify does not originate from cost or reliability asymmetries. Rather, firms’ sourcing decisions are driven by the interplay of the firms’ risk considerations with non-convexities in the production process. This implies that bilateral contracts that could involve under-delivery penalties may be insufficient to align incentives.