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Sequential R&D Strategy for Synfuels


  • Martin L. Weitzman
  • Whitney Newey
  • Michael Rabin


The basic point of this article is that a "crash program" mentality leads to inappropriate questions and wrong answers about policy issues in large-scale government subsidized research, like the development of synfuels. R&D funding should be viewed as a sequential decision, not a once-and-for-all choice. Using some new results in the theory of information gathering, we apply an operational sequential methodology to analyze whether the U.S. government should subsidize the development of liquid synthetic fuels from coal.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin L. Weitzman & Whitney Newey & Michael Rabin, 1981. "Sequential R&D Strategy for Synfuels," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 574-590, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:12:y:1981:i:autumn:p:574-590

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Samet, Dov & Tauman, Yair, 1982. "The Determination of Marginal Cost Prices under a Set of Axioms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 895-909, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pindyck, Robert S., 1993. "Investments of uncertain cost," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 53-76, August.
    2. Majd, Saman & Pindyck, Robert S., 1987. "Time to build, option value, and investment decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 7-27, March.
    3. Viju, Crina & Kerr, William A., 2010. "Is The Subsidy For Biofuels The Way To Go?," 14th ICABR Conference, June 16-18, 2010, Ravello, Italy 188117, International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR).
    4. Kolstad, Charles D., 2000. "Energy and Depletable Resources: Economics and Policy, 1973-1998," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 282-305, May.
    5. Kort, Peter M. & Murto, Pauli & Pawlina, Grzegorz, 2010. "Uncertainty and stepwise investment," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 202(1), pages 196-203, April.
    6. Bérard, Céline & Perez, Marie, 2014. "Alliance dynamics through real options: The case of an alliance between competing pharmaceutical companies," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 337-349.
    7. Viju, Crina & Kerr, William A., 2013. "Taking an option on the future: Subsidizing biofuels for energy security or reducing global warming," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 543-548.
    8. Schimmelpfennig, David, 1995. "The option value of renewable energy: The case of climate change," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 311-317, October.

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