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  • Jean Guillaume Forand

    (Wallis Institute and University of Waterloo)

Abstract

In standard models of experimentation, the costs of project development consist of (i) the direct cost of running trials as well as (ii) the implicit opportunity cost of leaving alternative projects idle. Another natural type of experimentation cost, the cost of holding on to the option of developing a currently inactive project, has not been studied. In a (multi-armed bandit) model of experimentation in which inactive projects have explicit maintenance costs and can be irreversibly discarded, I fully characterise the optimal experimentation policy and show that the decision-maker's incentive to actively manage its options has important implications for the order of project development. In the model, an experimenter searches for a success among a number of projects by choosing both those to develop now and those to maintain for (potential) future development. In the absence of maintenance costs, the optimal experimentation policy has a 'stay-with-the-winner' property: the projects that are more likely to succeed are developed first. Maintenance costs provide incentives to bring the option value of less promising projects forward, and under the optimal experimentation policy, projects that are less likely to succeed are sometimes developed first. A project development strategy of `going-with-the-loser' strikes a balance between the cost of discarding possibly valuable options and the cost of leaving them open.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 82.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:82

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  1. Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2009. "Strategic Experimentation with Poisson Bandits," Discussion Papers in Economics 10575, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. R. Preston Mcafee & Hugo M. Mialon & Sue H. Mialon, 2010. "Do Sunk Costs Matter?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(2), pages 323-336, 04.
  3. Nicolas Klein & Sven Rady, 2008. "Negatively Correlated Bandits," Working Papers 040, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  4. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sundaram, Rangarajan K, 1992. "Denumerable-Armed Bandits," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1071-96, September.
  5. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sundaram, Rangarajan K, 1994. "Switching Costs and the Gittins Index," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 687-94, May.
  6. Godfrey Keller & Sven Rady & Martin Cripps, 2005. "Strategic Experimentation with Exponential Bandits," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 39-68, 01.
  7. Bergemann, Dirk & Valimaki, Juuso, 2001. "Stationary multi-choice bandit problems," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(10), pages 1585-1594, October.
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