Inventory sharing and rationing in decentralized dealer networks

Hui Zhao, Vinayak Deshpande, Jennifer K. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


An increasing number of manufacturers have started to pursue a strategy that promotes inventory sharing among the dealers in their distribution network. In this paper we analyze a decentralized dealer network in which each independent dealer is given the flexibility to share his inventory. We model inventory sharing as a multiple demand classes problem in which each dealer faces his own customer demand with high priority, and inventory-sharing requests from other dealers with low priority. Assuming that each dealer uses a base-stock and threshold-rationing policy for his inventory-stocking and inventory-sharing decisions, we explicitly model the interactions between the dealers through inventory sharing and obtain a closed-form cost function for each dealer based on the steady-state distribution of the inventory levels at the two dealers. We then provide a detailed supermodularity analysis of the inventory-sharing and inventory-rationing game in which each dealer has a two-dimensional strategy set (stocking level and rationing level). We show that the full-sharing game (in which dealers precommit to sharing all of their on-hand inventory) and the fixed-sharing-level game (in which dealers precommit to sharing a portion of their on-hand inventory) are supermodular, and thus a pure-strategy Nash equilibrium is guaranteed to exist. For the rationing game (in which dealers precommit to their stocking levels), we show that there exists a dominant strategy equilibrium on the dealers' sharing (rationing) levels. Finally, a comprehensive computational study is conducted to highlight the impact of the manufacturer's incentives, subsidies, and/or transshipment fees on the dealers' sharing behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-547
Number of pages17
JournalManagement Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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