Cutting in line: Social norms in queues

Gad Allon*, Eran Hanany

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Although the norm in many retail banks is to serve customers on a first-come, first-served basis, some customers try to cut the line, usually by providing an excuse for their urgency. In other queues, however, this behavior is considered unacceptable and is aggressively banned. In all of these cases, customer exhibit strategies that have not yet been explored in the operations literature: they choose whether or not to cut the line and must also decide whether to accept or reject such intrusions by others. This paper derives conditions for the emergence of such behavior in equilibrium among the customers themselves, i.e., when the queue manager is not involved in granting priorities and the customers have to use community enforcement to sustain such equilibria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-506
Number of pages14
JournalManagement Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Games
  • Group decisions
  • Queues
  • Social norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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