31 May 2022 — NUS Computing PhD student Zhu Cungen was awarded second place in the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) College of Supply Chain Management (SCM) Best Student Paper Competition, for his paper on Right to Repair: Pricing, Welfare, and Environmental Implications.
The competition was part of the POMS 2022, a premier annual conference in the fields of production and operations management, which took place online in April. Each submitted paper was judged on its contribution towards advancing the theory and practice of supply chain management.
Zhu’s paper, which was co-authored with NUS Computing Assistant Professor Chen Jin and University of California, Berkeley Assistant Professor Luyi Yang, focuses on an emerging movement called the ‘right to repair’. The movement calls for legislation that requires manufacturers to provide repair information, tools, and parts, to make it easier for consumers to repair their own products (including mobile phones, laptops, vehicles, tractors, and electrical appliances). However, it is unclear how such legislation would affect product prices, consumers and the environment.
In the paper, the researchers developed an analytical model to investigate the impact of this proposed legislation on manufacturer profits, consumer surplus, social welfare, and the environment.
“Our model treats the right to repair legislation as an external force that reduces the cost of independent repair,” explained Zhu, who is conducting research toward his PhD in Information Systems at NUS Computing and is supervised by Dr Jin.
“Our results show that the right-to-repair legislation, which is meant to facilitate independent repair, may trigger a non-monotonic price response from a manufacturer in a product market. Under particular conditions, it could harm manufacturers, consumers, and the environment, resulting in a ‘lose-lose-lose’ outcome. Therefore, in relation to policymakers’ concerns about the legislation, our paper tells a cautionary tale about the right to repair, and highlights the inextricable link between the repair market and the product market.”
Zhu was one of the four competition finalists invited to present his paper in a special session at the online conference. The extended version of Zhu’s paper has also been accepted for publication by Management Science, a top journal in management research.
“Our paper gives highly robust insights into a timely and relevant legislative initiative, which is also the subject of active policy debate,” added Zhu.