We examine a central tenet of real option theory – whether real options influence managerial thresholds for investment. In contrast to prior studies that have focused on whether real options influence discrete investment decisions, our focus is on empirically isolating real options’ effects on thresholds. In particular, we examine the real options inherent in acquisition decisions. Our model posits that there are good reasons why we might expect there to be information asymmetry around the value of real options. Accordingly, if managers have unique information about growth options we might expect to observe them lowering their thresholds, perhaps to the point where they are willing to accept negative market returns. We further expect that the degree of information asymmetry for firm-specific growth options should be higher than for industry-specific growth options. Finally, we believe that managerial thresholds will be more prone to influence from growth options than deferment options. While thresholds are unobservable, we are able to isolate the effects of real options on acquisition thresholds by borrowing a method used originally in labor economics to isolate the determinants of reservation wages. Using a sample of over 28,000 acquisitions in the U.S., we find strong support for the model. These findings suggest that firms with low thresholds may choose to acquire despite comparatively low expected performance.
Folta, T.B. and O’Brien, J.P. (2007), "Market Versus Managerial Valuations of Real Options", Reuer, J.J. and Tong, T.W. (Ed.) Real Options Theory (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 199-224. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-3322(07)24007-0Download as .RIS
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