Inequity averse optimization in operational research
There are many applications across a broad range of business problem domains in which equity is a concern and many well-known operational research (OR) problems such as knapsack, scheduling or assignment problems have been considered from an equity perspective. This shows that equity is both a technically interesting concept and a substantial practical concern. In this paper we review the operational research literature on inequity averse optimization. We focus on the cases where there is a tradeoff between efficiency and equity. We discuss two equity related concerns, namely equitability and balance. Equitability concerns are distinguished from balance concerns depending on whether an underlying anonymity assumption holds. From a modeling point of view, we classify three main approaches to handle equitability concerns: the first approach is based on a Rawlsian principle. The second approach uses an explicit inequality index in the mathematical model. The third approach uses equitable aggregation functions that can represent the DM's preferences, which take into account both efficiency and equity concerns. We also discuss the two main approaches to handle balance: the first approach is based on imbalance indicators, which measure deviation from a reference balanced solution. The second approach is based on scaling the distributions such that balance concerns turn into equitability concerns in the resulting distributions and then one of the approaches to handle equitability concerns can be applied. We briefly describe these approaches and provide a discussion of their advantages and disadvantages. We discuss future research directions focussing on decision support and robustness.