Thesis defense of Nienke Hofstra, January 31, 2019

On Thursday, January 31, 2019, Nienke Hofstra will defend her PhD thesis “Individual decisionmaking in operations: A behavioral perspective”. This thesis has been supervised by prof.dr. W.E.H. Dullaert, S.L.J.M. de Leeuw and dr. E. Spiliotopoulou. The ceremony will take place in the Aula of the Main Building of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam at 13:45 hrs.


People play an important role in operations. Traditionally, research in the field of Operations Management is based on neoclassical economic theory, which conceptualizes people as rational agents. However, human behavior observed in practice often violates predictions based on rational choice. It is therefore important to obtain insight into drivers of individual decision behavior to understand how this behavior affects operations. This doctoral thesis investigates individual decision-making in operations settings in which human behavior is not well understood. First, it examines inventory ordering decisions when there is supply uncertainty or inventory record inaccuracy. Secondly, it studies how people allocate scarce inventory among sales channels. Thirdly, it explores transport planning decisions made by transport planners. Fourthly, it investigates how to assess and facilitate warehouse safety. To this end, different research methods are applied, ranging from behavioral laboratory experiments to case studies. The findings provide insights into the role of individual judgments (heuristics and biases in decision-making) and choices (individual and social goals and preferences) in inventory ordering and inventory allocation and transport planning. The findings furthermore shed light on individual perceptions of the importance of safety aspects providing insight in how to assess and facilitate warehouse safety.