The strategic value of flexibility in sequential decision making

Saifallah Benjaafar, Thomas L. Morin, Joseph J. Talavage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This paper formalizes the notion of flexibility in sequential decision making and investigates conditions under which the use of flexibility as an additional criterion may be justified. The correlations between flexibility and value, and flexibility and risk, are studied under various assumptions of uncertainty and information. A number of approaches to constructing a multiple objective decision criterion are discussed. In particular, characteristics of a dual-objective value function, that accounts for both expected value and flexibility, are described. The usefulness of these results is illustrated by applying them to decision processes in discrete part manufacturing. Relationships between flexibility and manufacturing performance are shown and implications to part flow control are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-457
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 1995
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research of the authors was supported in part by the Purdue Research Foundation, Purdue's University Research Initiative in Computational Combinatorics: ONR contract No. N00014-86-K-0689 and the National Science Foundation: grant No. DDM-9309631.


  • Decision theory
  • Flexibility
  • Flexible manufacturing systems
  • Multi criteria analysis


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