Many logistics systems operate in a decentralized way, while most optimization models assume a centralized planner. One example of a decentralized system is in some sea cargo companies: sales agents, who share ship capacity on a network, independently accept cargo from their location and contribute to the revenue of the system. The central headquarters does not directly control the agents' decisions but can influence them through system design and incentives. In this paper, we model the firm's problem to determine the best capacity allocation to the agents such that system revenue is maximized. In the special case of a single-route, we formulate the problem as a mixed integer program incorporating the optimal agent behavior. For the NP-hard multiple-route case, we propose several heuristics for the problem. Computational experiments show that the decentralized system generally performs worse when network capacity is tight and that the heuristics perform reasonably well. We show that the decentralized system may perform arbitrarily worse than the centralized system when the number of locations goes to infinity, although the choice of sales incentive impacts the performance. We develop an upper bound for the decentralized system, where the bound gives insight on the performance of the heuristics in large systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Modeling and Simulation
- Ocean Engineering
- Management Science and Operations Research