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Inventory Routing - A Strategic Management Accounting Perspective

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Title: Inventory Routing - A Strategic Management Accounting Perspective
Author: Wagner, Michael
Belongs to series: Economics and Society - 228
ISSN: 0424-7256
ISBN: 978-952-232-126-8
Abstract: This dissertation develops a strategic management accounting perspective of inventory routing. The thesis studies the drivers of cost efficiency gains by identifying the role of the underlying cost structure, demand, information sharing, forecasting accuracy, service levels, vehicle fleet, planning horizon and other strategic factors as well as the interaction effects among these factors with respect to performance outcomes. The task is to enhance the knowledge of the strategic situations that favor the implementation of inventory routing systems, understanding cause-and-effect relationships, linkages and gaining a holistic view of the value proposition of inventory routing. The thesis applies an exploratory case study design, which is based on normative quantitative empirical research using optimization, simulation and factor analysis. Data and results are drawn from a real world application to cash supply chains.

The first research paper shows that performance gains require a common cost component and cannot be explained by simple linear or affine cost structures. Inventory management and distribution decisions become separable in the absence of a set-dependent cost structure, and neither economies of scope nor coordination problems are present in this case. The second research paper analyzes whether information sharing improves the overall forecasting accuracy. Analysis suggests that the potential for information sharing is limited to coordination of replenishments and that central information do not yield more accurate forecasts based on joint forecasting. The third research paper develops a novel formulation of the stochastic inventory routing model that accounts for minimal service levels and forecasting accuracy. The developed model allows studying the interaction of minimal service levels and forecasting accuracy with the underlying cost structure in inventory routing. Interestingly, results show that the factors minimal service level and forecasting accuracy are not statistically significant, and subsequently not relevant for the strategic decision problem to introduce inventory routing, or in other words, to effectively internalize inventory management and distribution decisions at the supplier. Consequently the main contribution of this thesis is the result that cost benefits of inventory routing are derived from the joint decision model that accounts for the underlying set-dependent cost structure rather than the level of information sharing. This result suggests that the value of information sharing of demand and inventory data is likely to be overstated in prior literature. In other words, cost benefits of inventory routing are primarily determined by the cost structure (i.e. level of fixed costs and transportation costs) rather than the level of information sharing, joint forecasting, forecasting accuracy or service levels.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/26415
Date: 2011-05-17

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