Risk aversion in inventory management

Xin Chen, Melvyn Sim, David Simchi-Levi, Peng Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traditional inventory models focus on risk-neutral decision makers, i.e., characterizing replenishment strategies that maximize expected total profit, or equivalently, minimize expected total cost over a planning horizon. In this paper, we propose a framework for incorporating risk aversion in multiperiod inventory models as well as multiperiod models that coordinate inventory and pricing strategies. We show that the structure of the optimal policy for a decision maker with exponential utility functions is almost identical to the structure of the optimal risk-neutral inventory (and pricing) policies. These structural results are extended to models in which the decision maker has access to a (partially) complete financial market and can hedge its operational risk through trading financial securities. Computational results demonstrate that the optimal policy is relatively insensitive to small changes in the decision-maker's level of risk aversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)828-842
Number of pages15
JournalOperations Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Decision analysis: risk
  • Inventory/production: policies, uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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