Article | Manufacturing & Service Operations Management | fall 2008

Toward a Theory of Behavioral Operations

by Francesca Gino and Gary P. Pisano


Human beings are critical to the functioning of the vast majority of operating systems, influencing both the way these systems work and how they perform. Yet most formal analytical models of operations assume that the people who participate in operating systems are fully rational or at least can be induced to behave rationally. Many other disciplines, including economics, finance, and marketing, have successfully incorporated departures from this rationality assumption into their models and theories. In this paper, we argue that operations management scholars should do the same. We highlight initial studies that have adopted a "behavioral operations perspective" and explore the theoretical and practical implications of incorporating behavioral and cognitive factors into models of operations. Specifically, we address three questions: 1) What is a behavioral perspective on operations? 2) What might be the intellectual added value of such a perspective? 3) What are the basic elements of behavioral operations research?

Keywords: Management Systems; Operations; Mathematical Methods; Behavior; Cognition and Thinking; Perspective; Theory;


Gino, Francesca, and Gary P. Pisano. "Toward a Theory of Behavioral Operations." Manufacturing & Service Operations Management 10, no. 4 (fall 2008): 676–691.