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Managing commitments and flexibility by real options

By Ellen Roemer and M. Rese


NoIn the past, transaction cost economics (TCE) literature has largely stressed the benefits of contractual commitments in relationships. TCE traditionally recommends safeguarding specific assets against holdup, thus reducing behavioral uncertainty. In contrast, the reverse side of the coin has been disregarded for a long time. Firms may lose some of their flexibility and thus the opportunity to benefit from future emerging business activities due to prior contractual commitments. Flexibility becomes especially important in dynamic environments where there is rapid technological change. To manage the emergent trade-off between contractual commitments and flexibility in dynamic markets, the authors propose a real options approach. The value of a firm's flexibility to switch to a new trading partner is represented by a real switching option. It can be shown how contractual commitments directly affect the value of the switching option. To clarify, the authors numerically analyze the respective trade-off and derive implications for an optimal choice of contractual commitments

Topics: Relationships, Flexibility, Environmental Uncertainty, Cost
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2004.03.003
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Bradford Scholars
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