Real options in multinational corporations: organizational challenges and risk implications
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In this study, we investigate how multinationality affects firms’ risk levels. Our investigation builds on the idea from real options theory that international operations offer switching options to multinational corporations, yet we also emphasize different sources of coordination costs that can mitigate the benefits of operational flexibility. The findings from Tobit models accounting for self-selection underscore the importance of unobserved heterogeneity in the relationships between international investments and risk levels. Consistent with the coordination costs surrounding international operations, we find that the relationship between multinationality and downside risk is curvilinear: risk first declines and then increases as a firm's portfolio of international investments becomes extensive. In addition, downside risk is an increasing function of the average cultural distance between a firm's home base and the host countries in which its foreign subsidiaries operate.