Efficient Inaccuracy : User-Generated Information Sharing in a Queue

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationManagement Science
Online published14 May 2020
Publication statusOnline published - 14 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


We study a service system which does not have the capability of monitoring and disclosing its real-time congestion level. However, the customers can observe and post their observations online, and future arrivals can take into account such user-generated information when deciding whether to go to the service facility. We perform pairwise comparisons of the shared, full, and no queue length information structures in terms of social welfare. Perhaps surprisingly, we show that the shared queue length information may provide greater social welfare than full queue length information when the hassle cost of the customers entering the service facility falls into some ranges, and the shared and full queue length information always generate greater social welfare than no queue length information. Therefore, the discrete disclosure of congestion through user-generated sharing can lead to as much, or even greater, social welfare as the continuous stream of real-time queue length information disclosure, and always generates greater social welfare than no queue length information disclosure at all. These results imply that a little shared queue length information—inaccurate and lagged—can go a long way and that it may be more socially beneficial to encourage the sharing of user-generated information among customers than to provide them with full real-time queue length information.

Research Area(s)

  • observable queue, unobservable queue, information sharing, service operations