Using Laboratory Experiments in Logistics and Supply Chain Research

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Laboratory experiments provide an underutilized methodology for subjecting research in logistics and supply chain management to rigorous scientific scrutiny. As discussed in this paper, by following established procedures researchers can create an economic system in which behavior can be observed and replicated. With the ability to control the institution and the environment, researchers have complete information and can exogenously manipulate treatment variables, neither of which may be feasible in field work. We also address many of the reservations that skeptics of laboratory experiments often express including issues of realism, participant sophistication, and payoff stakes. We then provide several examples where experiments have been used to study issues relevant to logistics and supply chain management including auctions, wholesale practices in gasoline markets, inventory replenishment, liberalization of the electric power industry, and deregulation of the natural gas markets. Finally, we identify several additional areas where laboratory experiments could be informative.


This article was originally published in Journal of Business Logistics, volume 34, issue 1, in 2013.

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Peer Reviewed