Journal Article

Strategic Delay in a Real Options Model of R&D Competition

Helen Weeds

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 69, issue 3, pages 729-747
Published in print July 2002 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online July 2002 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-937X.t01-1-00029
Strategic Delay in a Real Options Model of R&D Competition

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  • Technological Change; Research and Development
  • Corporate Governance

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This paper considers irreversible investment in competing research projects with uncertain returns under a winner-takes-all patent system. Uncertainty takes two distinct forms: the technological success of the project is probabilistic, while the economic value of the patent to be won evolves stochastically over time. According to the theory of real options uncertainty generates an option value of delay, but with two competing firms the fear of preemption would appear to undermine this approach. In non-cooperative equilibrium two patterns of investment emerge depending on parameter values. In a pre-emptive leaderfollower equilibrium firms invest sequentially and option values are reduced by competition. A symmetric outcome may also occur, however, in which investment is more delayed than the single-firm counterpart. Comparing this with the optimal cooperative investment pattern, investment is found to be more delayed when firms act non-cooperatively as each holds back from investing in the fear of starting a patent race. Implications of the analysis for empirical and policy issues in R&D are considered.

Keywords: G31; O32

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Technological Change; Research and Development ; Corporate Governance

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