15.764 | Spring 2004 | Graduate

The Theory of Operations Management


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Special Topic for Spring 2004 Course

Customer-Driven Operations


A number of companies are currently deriving significant competitive advantage from the customer focus of their operation systems; examples include Dell (personal computer) through its direct-to-consumer and assemble-to-order model, Zara (fashion retail) through product testing, forecasting and life-cycle management, and Amazon (e-retail) through its unique distribution system and web interface.

The purpose of this year’s doctoral seminar in operations management is to review the quantitative models and theoretical tools underlying or describing some of the customer-driven operational practices of these and other cutting-edge companies. Accordingly, we will cover a wide range of both classical and very recent research papers illustrating the following topics:

  • Distribution Systems
  • Customer Choice Models
  • Assemble-to-Order Systems
  • Short Life-Cycle Product Management
  • Customer Service Centers
  • Forecast Evolution Models

Overall, this seminar should be a valuable opportunity to both learn about classical results and identify interesting current research opportunities.


Each class will consist of a paper presentation by a student, a group discussion about the paper and its general theme, and some remarks (possibly including theoretical complements) by the professor. We will maintain throughout an informal (luncheon) setting, with the goal of stimulating an active learning environment through open discussions. For the presenting student, the class will be followed by an individual coaching/debriefing session with the professor, specifically focusing on research presentation skills. Listeners are not allowed.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2004
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes