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The Economic Value of Flexibility When There is Disagreement

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  • Boot, Arnoud W A
  • Thakor, Anjan

Abstract

We develop an economic theory of ‘flexibility’, which we interpret as the discretion or ability to make a decision that others disagree with. We show that flexibility is essentially an option for the decision-maker, and can be valued as such. The value of the flexibility option is decreasing in the extent to which the decision-maker’s future decision-relevant opinion is correlated with the opinions of others who may be able to impede the decision. We argue that flexibility drives economic decisions in a significant way. The applications we consider are: the entrepreneur’s choice of flexibility in the initial mix of financing raised; the use of flexibility to understand differences in security design and the firm’s security-issuance decision; the impact of flexibility on the use of collateral in lending; the role of flexibility in capital budgeting decisions; the effect of flexibility considerations in the design of contracts in a principal-agent setting; the interpretation of ‘power’ and conformity in organizations in the context of flexibility; and the choice between private and public ownership in the context of flexibility.

Suggested Citation

  • Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan, 2003. "The Economic Value of Flexibility When There is Disagreement," CEPR Discussion Papers 3709, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3709
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Giacomo Bonanno & Klaus Nehring, "undated". "Agreeing To Disagree: A Survey," Department of Economics 97-18, California Davis - Department of Economics.
    2. repec:fth:prinin:389 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Victor Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James Poterba, 1997. "Why Do Economists Disagree About Policy? The Roles of Beliefs About Parameters and Values," Working Papers 768, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    5. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-329, May.
    6. Higashide, Hironori & Birley, Sue, 2002. "The consequences of conflict between the venture capitalist and the entrepreneurial team in the United Kingdom from the perspective of the venture capitalist," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 59-81, January.
    7. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    8. Henry S. Farber & Max H. Bazerman, 1989. "Divergent Expectations as a Cause of Disagreement in Bargaining: Evidence from a Comparison of Arbitration Schemes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(1), pages 99-120.
    9. Prendergast, Canice, 1993. "A Theory of "Yes Men."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 757-770, September.
    10. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arnoud W.A. Boot & Anjan V. Thakor, 2003. "Disagreement and Flexibility: A Theory of Optimal Security Issuance and Capital Structure," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-001/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Mark Pyles & Donald Mullineax, 2008. "Constraints on Loan Sales and the Price of Liquidity," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 33(1), pages 21-36, February.
    3. Blau, Benjamin M. & Fuller, Kathleen P., 2008. "Flexibility and dividends," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 133-152, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    corporate finance; Managerial decision-making;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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