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Last Updated on June 1, 2024
Research Interests
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Industry Projects Advised

Owen  Q.  Wu

Associate Professor, Grant Thornton Scholar
Department of Operations & Decision Technologies

Director - Research and Outreach, Institute for Environmental and Social Sustainability
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University

(812)855-2676, 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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Xiaoshan Peng, Owen Wu, Gilvan Souza. 2024. Renewable, Flexible, and Storage Capacities: Friends or Foes? Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, forthcoming.

Over 99% of the new power generation capacity to be installed in the U.S. from 2023 to 2050 will be powered by wind, solar, and natural gas. Additionally, large-scale battery systems are planned to support power systems. It is paramount for policymakers and electric utilities to deepen the understanding of the operational and investment relations among renewable, flexible (natural gas-powered), and storage capacities. In this paper, we optimize both the joint operations and investment mix of these three types of resources, examining whether they act as investment substitutes or complements. Using stochastic control theory, we identify and prove the structure of the optimal storage control policy, from which we determine various pairs of charging and discharging operations.


Owen Wu, Roman Kapuscinski, Santhosh Suresh, 2023. On the Distributed Energy Storage Investment and Operations. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 25(6) 2277-2297.

(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.

Download preprint version

Easier read:   Kelley School blog   


Telesilla Kotsi, Owen Wu, Alfonso Pedraza-Martinez, 2022. Donations for Refugee Crises: In-kind Versus Cash Assistance. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 24(6) 3001-3018, Special Section 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. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 24(5) 2481-2499, Special Section 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 Utility Heterogeneity and Income Disparity: Redesigning the Community Solar Business Model.

The challenge of equitably allocating a divisible resource and its associated costs or savings among consumers with heterogeneous incomes and private levels of resource utility arises in many situations. The challenge lies in the dual dimensions of consumer characteristics and the coupled allocation problems. We devise and analyze various resource allocation schemes, using utility-led community solar as a focal application in this paper.


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 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 Energy Efficiency?.

The rising renewable energy (RE) adoption may impact energy efficiency (EE) improvement---the RE rebound effect may hinder EE improvement, while RE adoption may also heighten overall awareness of energy usage, thereby driving EE improvement. This paper examines whether and how RE adoption influences EE improvement. We leverage data from 183 sites of a multinational industrial conglomerate from 2015 to 2020 to estimate the impact of changes in RE usage and acquisition methods (e.g., sourcing off-site or generating on-site) on EE improvement. We find that using RE to satisfy an additional 10% of a siteís energy demand caused an additional 2% improvement in EE. However, the impact varies significantly depending on the acquisition approach. While sourcing off-site RE led to EE improvement, installing on-site RE generation had either no or a negative effect.


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

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%. However, using CHP exposes firms to a higher fuel price uncertainty, compared to purchasing electricity at a relatively stable price from the utility and generating heat separately. 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 and electricity prices. A standard practice is to design a CHP system to match the thermal demand it serves and retire the legacy boiler, ensuring high energy efficiency. We revisit this standard practice and improve it by optimizing the CHP design and operations.


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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ENRE Best Publication in Environment and Sustainability, INFORMS 2023, for the paper Smart Charging of Electric Vehicles: An Innovative Business Model for Utility Firms


Finalist, M&SOM Best Paper Award, INFORMS, 2023


Innovative Teaching Award, Kelley School of Business, 2023


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


Excellence in Teaching Award, MBA Program, Kelley School of Business, 2021, 2020


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


Trustee Teaching Award, Indiana University, 2018


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


Finalist, Trustee Teaching Award, Indiana University, 2017, 2016


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, 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 Place, 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