Stepwise investment and capacity sizing under uncertainty
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The relationship between uncertainty and managerial flexibility is particularly crucial in addressing capital projects. We consider a firm that can invest in a project in either a single (lumpy investment) or multiple stages (stepwise investment) under price uncertainty and has discretion over not only the time of investment but also the size of the project. We confirm that if the capacity of a project is fixed and the investment premium associated with stepwise investment is positive, then lumpy investment becomes more valuable than a stepwise investment strategy under high price uncertainty. By contrast, if a firm has discretion over capacity, then we show that the stepwise investment strategy always dominates that of lumpy investment. In addition, we show that the total amount of installed capacity under a stepwise investment strategy is always greater than that under lumpy investment.
KeywordsInvestment analysis Capacity sizing Flexibility Real options
The authors would like to express their gratitude to Peter Kort for his valuable comments that helped improve the paper.
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