Sourcing Decisions with Stochastic Supplier Reliability and Stochastic Demand

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Production and Operations Management






Supplier sourcing strategies are a crucial factor driving supply chain success. In this paper, we investigate the implications of uncertain supplier reliability on a firm's sourcing decisions in an environment with stochastic demand. In particular, we characterize specific conditions under which a firm should choose a single versus multiple supplier sourcing strategy. In an environment with both uncertain demand and supply, we characterize the total order quantity, the number of suppliers selected for order placement, and the allocation of the total order quantity among these selected suppliers. For deeper managerial insight, we also examine the sensitivity of the optimal sourcing decisions to interactions between uncertainties in product demand and supply reliability. We show that sourcing from a single supplier is an optimal strategy for environments characterized by high levels of demand uncertainty or high salvage values. A numerical analysis based on data obtained from an office products retailer further reinforces our analytical results. In addition, we also find that when minimal order quantities are imposed, there are situations where it is not optimal to place an order with the lowest cost supplier.