Diagnosis and reduction of bullwhip in supply chains

Peter McCullen, Denis Towill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Bullwhip” describes the general tendency for small changes in end-customer demand to be amplified within a production-distribution system. A 10 per cent increase in sales to end-customers can precipitate a 40 per cent upswing in production and subsequent downswing (as excess stocks are depleted) within a three-echelon supply chain. It is shown how proven material flow control principles significantly reduce bullwhip in a global supply chain. The evidence demonstrates that a methodology, which has evolved over several decades, provides a suitable framework for effective change. Bullwhip is not a new problem; it is a new name coined to describe a very well-known problem. Some observed barriers to change are briefly reviewed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-179
Number of pages16
JournalSupply Chain Management: An International Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Supply-chain management
  • Materials management
  • Flow production.


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