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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Real Options Analysis in Strategic Information Technology Adoption

Real Options Analysis in Strategic Information Technology Adoption
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Author(s): Xiaotong Li (University of Alabama, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch511


View Real Options Analysis in Strategic Information Technology Adoption on the publisher's website for pricing and purchasing information.


Many information resource managers have learned to be proactive in today’s highly competitive business environment. However, limited financial resources and many uncertainties require them to maximize their shareholders’ equity while controlling the risks incurred at an acceptable level. As the unprecedented development in information technology continuously produces great opportunities that are usually associated with significant uncertainties, technology adoption and planning become more and more crucial to companies in the information era. In this study, we attempt to evaluate IT investment opportunities from a new perspective, namely, the real options theory. Its advantage over other capital budgeting methods like static discounted cash flow analysis has been widely recognized in analyzing the strategic investment decision under uncertainties (Amram & Kulatilaka, 1999; Luehrman, 1998a, 1998b). Smith and McCardle (1998, 1999) further show that option pricing approach can be integrated into standard decision analysis framework to get the best of the both worlds. In fact, some previous IS researches have recognized the fact that many IT investment projects in the uncertain world possess some option-like characteristics (Clemsons, 1991; Dos Santos, 1991; Kumar, 1996). Recently, Benaroth and Kauffman (1999) and Taudes, Feurstein and Mild (2000) have applied the real options theory to real-world business cases and evaluated this approach’s merits as a tool for IT investment planning. As all real options models inevitably depend on some specific assumptions, their appropriateness should be scrutinized under different scenarios. This study aims to provide a framework that will help IS researchers to better understand the real options models and to apply them more rigorously in IT investment evaluation. As the technology changes, the basic economic principles underlying the real options theory do not change. We do need to integrate the IT dimension into the real options based investment decision-making process. Using electronic brokerage’s investment decision in wireless technology as a real-world example, we show the importance of adopting appropriate real options models in IT investment planning. By specifically focusing on the uncertainties caused by IT innovation and competition, our study also gives some intriguing results about the dynamics between IT adoption and the technology standard setting process.

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