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Last Updated on January 20, 2023
Research Interests
Working Papers
Industry Projects Advised

Owen  Q.  Wu

Associate Professor

Grant Thornton Scholar
Department of Operations & Decision Technologies
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University

1309 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405


Phone:    (812)855-2676
Email:    owenwu {at} indiana.edu

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Research Interests

Operations Management for Energy Sustainability:

 > Investment and operations management of energy resources, including conventional and renewable energy resources and energy storage

 > Renewable energy in electricity market competition: theories and empirics

 > Sustainable energy supply: efficiency, reliability, and environmental impacts

 > Energy demand management: demand-side energy efficiency, demand response, grid integration of electrical vehicles

Operations Management for Social Responsibility:

 > Humanitarian aid management

 > Anti-corruption in humanitarian supply chains

 > Nonprofit operations and cross-sector partnership

Supply chain management:

 > Empirical research on supply chain management and financial performance

 > Supply chain structure and risk management

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Telesilla Kotsi, Owen Wu, Alfonso Pedraza-Martinez, 2022. Donations for Refugee Crises: In-kind Versus Cash Assistance. Forthcoming in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management (Special Issue on Responsible Research in Operations Management)

Six million refugees lived in camps in 2021 due to multiple armed conflicts worldwide. Humanitarian organizations traditionally provide in-kind (e.g. food) assistance and, just recently, offer cash (monetary assistance) that refugees can spend at local retail stores. However, cash assistance can be exploited by local retailersí market power, which challenges the HOsí mission of helping refugees while doing no harm to host communities. Informed by field research in three refugee camps in north-western Greece, we analyze the trade-off between in-kind and cash assistance from the perspective of an HO. We propose two cash assistance policies that benefit refugees and local residents while ensuring the retailerís profitability. In particular, a price-dependent cash assistance (PDCA) policy aligns the incentives between the retailer and the HO-government partnership. This new policy for cash assistance acts as a lever for the retailer to set desirable prices, which benefit both refugees and the host community.

Download preprint version

Easier read:   Short article on Conversation    Kelley School blog    INFORMS press release


Owen Wu, Safak Yucel, Helen Zhou, 2022. Smart Charging of Electric Vehicles: An Innovative Business Model for Utility Firms. Forthcoming in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management (Special Issue on Smart City Operations)

By providing an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional vehicles, electric vehicles will transform urban mobility, particularly, in smart cities. In practice, once an electric vehicle is plugged in, the charging station completes charging as soon as possible. Given that the procurement cost of electricity and resulting carbon emissions vary significantly during a day, substantial savings can be achieved by smart charging|delaying charging until the cost is lower. In this paper, we study smart charging as an innovative business model for utility firms.

Download preprint version

Easier read:   INFORMS press release


Hyun-soo Ahn, Derek Wang, Owen Wu, 2021. Asset Selling under Debt Obligations. Operations Research, 69(4) 1305-1323. (Download preprint version)


Majid Al-Gwaiz, Xiuli Chao, Owen Wu, 2017. Understanding How Generation Flexibility and Renewable Energy Affect Power Market Competition. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 19(1) 114-131. (Download preprint version)

Easier read:   M&SOM Review


Owen Wu, Yanfeng Ouyang, 2017. Supply Chain Design and Optimization with Applications in the Energy Industry. In Advances and Trends in Optimization with Engineering Applications, by T. Terlaky, M. F. Anjos, S. Ahmed (editors), SIAM. (Download preprint version)


Owen Wu, Hong Chen, 2016. Chain-to-Chain Competition Under Demand Uncertainty. Journal of the Operations Research Society of China, 4 (1) 49-75. (Download preprint version)


Owen Wu, Roman Kapuscinski, 2013. Curtailing Intermittent Generation in Electrical Systems. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 15(4) 578Ė595.  (Download preprint version with color figures)

Easier read:   M&SOM Review


Owen Wu, Derek Wang, Zhenwei Qin (DTE Energy), 2012.  Seasonal Energy Storage Operations with Limited Flexibility: The Price-Adjusted Rolling Intrinsic Policy.  Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 14(3) 455-471.


Owen Wu, Volodymyr Babich, 2012. Unit-Contingent Power Purchase Agreement and Asymmetric Information about Plant Outage. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 14(2) 245-261.


David Shuman, Mingyan Liu, Owen Wu, 2011. Energy-Efficient Transmission Scheduling with Strict Underflow Constraints. IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, 57(3) 1344-1367.


Adam Wadecki, Vlad Babich, Owen Wu, 2011. Manufacturer Competition and Subsidies to Suppliers.  In Supply Chain Disruptions: Theory and Practice of Managing Risk, by H. Gurnani, A. Mehrotra, and S. Ray (editors), Springer-Verlag.


Owen Wu, Hong Chen, 2010. Optimal Control and Equilibrium Behavior of Production-Inventory Systems. Management Science, 56(8) 1362-1379.


Hong Chen, Owen Wu, David Yao, 2010. On the Benefit of Inventory-Based Dynamic Pricing Strategies, Production and Operations Management, 19(3) 249-260.


Hong Chen, Murray Frank, Owen Wu, 2007. U.S. Retail and Wholesale Inventory Performance from 1981 to 2004, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 9(4) 430-456.


Hong Chen, Murray Frank, Owen Wu, 2005. What Actually Happened to the Inventories of American Companies Between 1981 and 2000?, Management Science, 51(7) 1015-1031.


Julian Douglass, Owen Wu, William Ziemba, 2004. Stock Ownership Decisions in Defined-Contribution Pension Plans, Journal of Portfolio Management, 30(4) 92-100.


Benjamin Yen, Owen Wu, 2004. Internet Scheduling Environment with Market-Driven Agents, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 34(2) 281-289.


Case Study, Review and Tutorial


Owen Wu, Xiuli Chao, 2017. Can Renewable Energy be Too Much of a Good Thing? M&SOM Review, May 2017.


INFORMS 2011 Tutorial.  Applying Production and Inventory Management Theory to Sustainable Energy Systems.


Owen Wu, Nathan Bennett, 2010. Sustainability at Detroit Edison: Using Natural Gas as a Transition Fuel. Case study with teaching notes.

Electric utility companies have been at the forefront of the sustainable development challenge. Facing this challenge and the fact that 70 percent of the nationís electricity is still produced from fossil fuels, displacing fossil generation assets cannot happen overnight. Thus, utility companies must develop a transition strategy that (a) lowers the environmental footprint of the fossil generation assets before they are replaced by renewable sources, (b) allows the renewable sources to be economically integrated into the generation fleet and thus provides customers with affordable rates, and (c) limits any negative impact of this transition on social progress. This case describes Detroit Edison's sustainability strategies in transforming its fossil generation assets, focusing on the tradeoff between retirement, emission control, and repowering plants using natural gas.


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Working Papers

Siddharth Prakash Singh, Owen Q. Wu. Resource Allocation under Income Disparity and Valuation Heterogeneity: Redesigning the Community Solar Business Model.

The challenge of optimally allocating a limited resource and its associated cost/benefit among consumers with heterogeneous income levels and private resource valuations arises in many situations. This paper tackles this challenge in the context of utility-led community solar.


Paola Martin, Owen Q. Wu, and Larysa Yakymova. Anti-Corruption and Humanitarian Aid Management in Ukraine.

The flow of humanitarian aid, both monetary and in-kind, as a response to the Russian Federationís full-scale invasion of Ukraine was unprecedented. In this context, one of the most pressing issues is how to regulate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the final beneficiaries, preventing its loss and misuse due to corrupt behavior in the delivery process. However, strengthening anti-corruption efforts is costly. This cost is part of the total financial aid and it therefore comes at the expenses of people in need. In this paper, we analyze this tradeoff and provide managerial insights in the context of humanitarian aid management in Ukraine.


Amrou Awaysheh, Christopher Chen, Owen Wu. Does Renewable Energy Renew the Endeavor in Energy Efficiency?.

Barriers to energy efficiency (EE) have existed long before the rise in renewable energy (RE) investment. However, increased RE adoption may have unintended consequences for improving EE as adoption may raise or lower the barriers to EE. In this paper, we examine whether and how RE adoption can increase or decrease EE improvement. Using site-level data from an industrial conglomerate, we estimate the impact of changes in RE usage and in the acquisition approach on the EE of 183 manufacturing sites across the globe from 2015 to 2020. On average, we find that using RE to meet 10% more of a siteís energy demand led to an additional 2.0% improvement in EE. However, there is significant heterogeneity in the effects depending on the acquisition approach. We find that while purchasing RE credits or entering into power purchase agreements led to gains in EE, installing on-site RE generators had no effect.


Xiaoshan Peng, Owen Wu, Gilvan Souza. Renewable, Flexible, and Storage Capacities: Friends or Foes?.

Over 97% of the power generation capacity to be installed from 2021 to 2050 in the U.S. is expected to be powered by wind, solar, and natural gas. Meanwhile, large-scale battery systems are planned to support the power systems. It is paramount that policy makers and electric utilities understand the operational and investment relations among the renewable (wind and solar), flexible (natural gas), and storage capacities. In this paper, we optimize the joint operations of these three types of resources and identify the structure of the optimal operating policy---in particular, the optimal storage control policy. Furthermore, we optimize the investment mix of these resources and examine the investment relations among them (i.e., investment substitutes or complements). We explain the investment relations using the operational insights obtained from the storage control policy.


On the Distributed Energy Storage Investment and Operations. With Roman Kapuscinski and Santhosh Suresh. (An earlier version was titled "Operations and investment of energy storage in a tree network")

Energy storage has become an indispensable part of power distribution systems, necessitating prudent investment decisions. We analyze a facility location problem for energy storage and compare the benefits of centralized storage (next to a central energy generation site) versus distributed storage (localized at demand sites). This problem includes optimizing storage capacities across all locations, with the objective of minimizing the total storage investment and energy generation costs. We find that there are fundamental differences between centralization/localization decisions at the capacity investment stage and the centralization/localization decisions at the storage operations level. At the operations level, centrally stored energy offers more operational flexibility, which is consistent with the conventional understanding of inventory pooling. However, at the investment level, we find that localized storage is preferred under various circumstances.


Energy Efficiency Implies Cost Efficiency? Revisiting Design and Operations of Combined Heat and Power Systems. With Wenbin Wang and Gilvan Souza.

The combined heat and power (CHP) technology produces both heat and electricity from a single fuel input, achieving an efficiency (total useful energy output divided by fuel input) as high as 90%. Because the high energy efficiency is achieved by utilizing exhaust heat, it is a common practice to design a CHP system to match the thermal demand it serves. Energy efficiency, however, does not necessarily imply cost efficiency when fuel price is variable. In this paper, we study the problem of optimizing the design (including capacity and power-to-heat ratio) and operations of a CHP system for an industrial firm facing variable fuel price. We identify two drivers for improving the overall cost efficiency of CHP: 1) the flexibility of operating the CHP system at various output levels in response to the fuel price, enabled by properly over-sizing the CHP system relative to the heat demand, and 2) the flexibility of co-operating the CHP system and the legacy boiler. Numerical examples with realistic settings demonstrate that our recommended CHP system design and operations can yield substantial long-run cost savings for the firm. The results of this paper call for revisiting the current practice of designing CHP systems, as recommended by the government and industry associations.


Utility-Owned Combined Heat and Power: Improving Reliability and Lessening Environmental Impact. With Eric Webb and Gilvan Souza.

Combined heat and power (CHP) plants generate electricity and useful heat at the same time, reaching high efficiencies. There are many benefits to utilities of having CHP plants in their portfolio, including increasing power reliability, reducing transmission losses, and meeting environmental regulations. Despite these benefits, only 3% of all CHP capacity in the U.S. is utility owned. We study the economics of utility ownership of CHP plants and examine the impact of regulatory policies on such investments. We find investment in many CHP plants to be attractive to utilities, even without regulatory policy intervention. A low to moderate emissions tax makes CHP even more attractive for utilities.


Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Incentive-based Demand Response. With Eric Webb and Kyle Cattani.

Energy efficiency programs and demand response programs, two popular approaches to energy demand management, are traditionally designed and evaluated independently. Breaking with tradition, we study the interactions between energy efficiency upgrades and participation in incentive-based demand response programs. We re-examine the energy efficiency gap in light of demand response participation. We also illustrate how to coordinate the programs to maximize their combined benefits.


On the Impact of Decision Speed in Strategic Supply Chain Decentralization. With Harish Krishnan.

The costs and benefits of vertical integration versus decentralization have been studied extensively. One strand of this large literature has highlighted the "strategic" benefits of decentralization. Strategic decentralization, or delegation, can benefit upstream firms by allowing them to commit to higher wholesale prices which then dampens downstream price competition. However, the strategic decentralization literature has ignored the possibility that while decentralization may affect the speed with which a supply chain makes decisions. In this paper, we focus on the impact of the decision speed on equilibrium strategies and supply chain structure.


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Honorable Mention, MSOM Society Award for Responsible Research in Operations Management, 2022


Excellence in Teaching Award, MBA Program, Kelley School of Business, 2021


Excellence in Teaching Award, MBA Program, Kelley School of Business, 2020


Distinguished Teaching Award, Doctoral Program, Kelley School of Business, 2019


Trustee Teaching Award, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, 2018


Paul Kleindorfer Award in Sustainability, Production and Operations Management (POMS) Society, 2017.


Finalist, Trustee Teaching Award, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, 2016, 2017


M&SOM Meritorious Service Award, 2019, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, and 2008.


Operations Research Meritorious Service Award, 2012


BBA Teaching Excellence Award, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, 2011 and 2009


Faculty Advisor for the project of "Landfill Gas Utilization as a Sustainable Energy Source" for UPS, First Place at the 2008 Spotlight! Event at Tauber Institute for Global Operations.


First Prize, 2005 Manufacturing & Service Operations Management Society Student Paper Competition.


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Converting research papers to classroom teaching:

Inventory and Financial Performance — for Chen, Frank, Wu (2005, 2007)

(This file is password protected. Click "read only" to view the slides. Contact me if you need full slides.)


Teaching at Indiana University:

Machine Learning, MBA/MSIS, 2020 to present
Machine Learning, Kelley Direct, 2019 to present
Dynamic Programming, PhD course, 2018 to present
Applications of Business Analytics: Energy Management, Kelley Direct, 2018-2019
Operations Management, MBA core, 2014-2019
Introduction to Operations Management, Kelley Direct Program's Connect Week, 2016-2017
Topics in Operations Research and Energy Management, PhD course, 2015

Courses taught at University of Michigan:

Operations Management, MBA core, 2012-2013
Supply Chain Management, BBA elective, 2011-2014
Operations Management, BBA core, 2007-2011
Managing Business Operations, Business Minor, 2012-2013
Interface of Operations and Finance, PhD course, 2007

Course taught at University of British Columbia:

Operations Management, BComm 2005.
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Industry Projects Advised


Target: Improving problem freight disposition time


Target: Improving trailer load accuracy


PepsiCo: Achieving 100 percent renewable energy


Pacific Gas & Electric: Streamlining gas leak detection and repair


Cummins: Remanufacturing process improvement


BorgWarner:  Reducing industrial waste and improving waste treatment


3M:  Protective eyewear portfolio and supply chain optimization

Detroit Edison:  Operational and financial analysis of using petroleum coke and natural gas at Monroe power plant


Detroit Edison:  Optimizing redesign of boiler makeup water feed system

Boeing:  Boeing 777: Lean logistics plan for material delivery


Graham Partners:  Portfolio-wide energy management


Delphi:  Creating value through global copper supply chain improvements


Dow:  Gaining competitive advantage through improved supply chain sustainability

Meritor:  Life cycle assessment for tandom axles


Detroit Edison:  Shaping the future of fossil fuel power generation


Boeing:  Embedding "Design for Environment" in the Boeing design process


UPS:  Landfill gas utilization as a sustainable energy source

Microsoft:  Advertising campaigns in social media

P&G:  Pampers marketing strategy


Dow Chemical:  Ion exchange improvement opportunity analysis

Velocys:  Biomass-to-liquid and waste-to-liquid markets

Domino's:  Operational and financial analysis

OptionCare:  Distribution system improvement

Ryder:  Market entry

Chemtura:  Market entry

Bell Canada: Viral marketing

Orbitz:  Online community


London Drugs:  Product allocation and replenishment

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Go to: 

owenwu {at} indiana.edu