Capita selecta – Behavioral Operations Management


13 November & 4 December 2024


10.00 – 16.00 h.




Michael Becker-Peth & Jelle de Vries




0,5 (attendance) | 2 (attendance + passing assignment)

Course fee:

Free for TRAIL/Beta/ERIM members, others please contact the TRAIL office


see below.


Upon completion of this course students should be able to:

  • Discuss behavioural factors that are relevant in an operations context.
  • Evaluate the role of behavioural factors in their own research domain.

Course description:

Operations Management (OM) encompasses a broad field of study, covering not only the design and management of processes in manufacturing and service organizations that create value for society, but also the search for rigorous laws governing the behaviors of physical systems and organizations. Encompassing such a broad range of topics, OM frequently overlaps with other academic streams, such as quality management, operations research (OR), finance, and marketing, and employs methods from these streams. In doing so, the methods employed in OM research are generally heavily oriented towards the development of normative (mathematical) models. This approach has proven to be highly valuable for the advancement of the field of OM, as these models enable us to explain and predict the impact of certain decisions and actions on supply chain outcomes. At the same time, because models always offer a simplification of reality they are subject to certain rigid assumptions that might not reflect reality accurately. For example, such models commonly assume that:

  • People are deterministic and predictable
  • People are independent
  • People are “stationary” (no learning, fatigue, or problem solving occurs)
  • People are not part of the product or service
  • People are emotionless
  • Work is perfectly observable

As a result, these models often leave a substantial part of the variance in their outcome variable of interest unexplained. The field of Behavioural Operations Management (BOM) is driven by the departure from the assumption that all agents participating in operating systems or processes – ranging from decision-making managers to workers – are fully rational or at least act that way.

More specifically, BOM explores the interaction of human behaviors and operational systems and processes. Specifically, it has the goal of identifying ways in which human psychological and sociological phenomena impact operational performance, as well as identifying the ways in which operations policies impact such behavior.

In this course students will be exposed to studies and activities that demonstrate behavioural dynamics in a range of work contexts. Students will be encouraged to come up with examples of situations in which behavior impacts performance, and will analyze data to establish the impact of such behavioural effects. In-class discussions will enable a thorough understanding of the phenomena treated in each session, and offer students ideas about how the insights are applicable in many types of contexts.


Writing a research proposal for a study that considers one or more behavioral factors in the context of the participant’s study domain. Besides providing a motivation for the importance of the study, the exact content depends on the nature of the domain. For example, the proposal can contain a proposed experiment to test behavioral factors, a description of how and why existing models can be extended, etc.


Day 1 – We start with providing an introduction in theoretical foundations of behavioral operations, and demonstrate some of the most influential behavioral biases. Subsequently, the role of behavior in several OM domains, such as inventory management, contracting, and production management will be discussed.

Day 2 – Part 1: We continue the discussion of the role of behavior in several OM domains.

Part 2: Participants will present their proposal for the assignment. This includes the theoretical background, research question and/or hypotheses, and proposed methodology.



We will discuss a variety of methodologies (e.g. experiments, empirical analyses, behavioral modeling) to align with the content of the articles covered in the course.

Course material:

Relevant scientific articles will be provided at the start of the course.


Basic knowledge of Operations/Logistics Management and curiosity to explore the impact of behavior in your research domain.

Course Registration form

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