The scheduler’s balancing act of sensing and reacting: a behavioral perspective on scheduling

José A. Larco Martinelli*, Jan C. Fransoo, Amir Gharehgozli, Vincent Wiers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The scheduler has been extensively studied from the point of view of their schedules, using operations research. However, the scheduler not only fulfils a decision-maker role but also an informational role, responding to requests and disruptions, both from the supply and the demand side. Responding in a timely manner to such requests and disruptions is paramount for the scheduling job. Using a field study with job shadowing of schedulers in a Fortune 500 chemical company, we characterise the scheduler’s workflow in a simulation model; this allows us to discriminate between contextual factors of the scheduler’s job and behavioural factors inherent to them. Furthermore, it explicitly assesses the effect of increasing the frequency sensing of the outer world on responsiveness. Our findings show that the studied schedulers prioritise sensing activities related to checking emails rather than monitoring for disruptions in a decision support system. Thus, we find a higher potential for relative improvement in terms of responding to possible disruptions shown in decision support systems rather than responding to email requests. Moreover, we show that by adjusting email frequency checking and preemption behaviours, it is possible to revert an out of control situation to finite response times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3944-3955
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • behavioural operations management
  • preemption
  • scheduler
  • sensing and reacting


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