The Engineer as an Entrepreneur (Oops!…I Did It Again)

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This invited article reflects the particular preoccupations of the author, which concern the parallel and connected development of academic models for managing inventories and their actual applications in industry.

Some centralised production-inventory models that have been of service to contemporary business practices in decentralised decision-making settings are discussed here. I have limited my examples to those in which I have had direct experience. I have attempted to highlight four key points. (a) The strategic role of inventories in capturing revenue and market share, in addition to their traditional role as buffers, in our contemporary customer-scarce Schumpeter’s market. (b) Facilitating the acceptance of model outputs by decision makers across organisational silos and even across firm boundaries using management mechanics. (c) Development and use of a general-purpose algorithm utilising infinitesimal perturbation analysis (IPA) derivatives. (d) The emergence of enterprise inventory optimisation (EIO) as mainstream software.

That was the abstract of my 2013 invited essay Planned Spontaneity for Better Product Availability, where I discussed Inventory Research and SmartOps, where I referenced:

Towne, H. R. 1886. “The Engineer as an Economist.” American Society of Mechanical Engineers Transactions 7 (2): 428–432.

More than a century later, Al Roth wrote an article (and from what I remember, he was not aware of the 1886 article):

Roth, A.E. 2002. THE ECONOMIST AS ENGINEER: GAME THEORY, EXPERIMENTATION, AND COMPUTATION AS TOOLS FOR DESIGN ECONOMICS. Econometrica Vol. 70, No. 4 (July, 2002), 1341–1378.

In my invited article Management Mechanics: The Audacity of BOPE, I had a section (being aware of the above two papers):

The Engineer as an Entrepreneur.

On April 10th, I am scheduled to speak at University of Minnesota (ISyE Department), and I decided to focus on Organ Transplantation, given my recent invited article:

As I was preparing slides, I thought I would add one that shows the parallels between Academic Capitalist and Academic Philanthropist, with the title:

Oops!…I Did It Again.😏

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