Essays in Operations Management



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This dissertation consists of three essays. The first essay considers a learning problem for a mobile-promotion platform. The second essay studies the identification of bottlenecks of processes in the presence of collaboration and multitasking. The third essay considers an assortment planning problem faced by an online retailer. In Chapter 2, we consider a learning problem for a mobile-promotion platform which conducts advertising campaigns for individual advertisers and operates under both supply-side and demand-side uncertainties. The platform fulfills campaigns by procuring impressions from publishers. The relationship between the bid amount and the probability of winning an impression at that bid is initially unknown to the platform, and it learns them on the fly based on the bids placed and the realized outcomes. Each acquired impression is allocated to an ongoing campaign. We propose a bidding and allocation policy and show that our policy is asymptotically tight. In Chapter 3, we study the identification of bottlenecks of processes that involves collaboration and multitasking. Collaboration occurs when at least one activity of the process requires two or more resources simultaneously, and multitasking occurs when at least one resource is needed for two or more activities of the process. We formulate and analyze graph-theoretic optimization problems that determine bottleneck structures of activities and the associated bottleneck sets of resources in deterministic, single-product processes. In Chapter 4, we consider an assortment planning problem faced by an e-tailer. When shopping online, a consumer often searches using keywords, then examines the products displayed on the webpage as a result of the search. The set of products shown by the e-tailer may trigger her interest in a specific product feature, leading the consumer to refine her search and focus only on products with this feature. Taking this into consideration, we study the e-tailer’s optimal product display decision when consumers have the option to refine their search.



Management science, Operations research, Business logistics