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The Economic Value of Flexibility When There is Disagreement

  • Boot, Arnoud W A
  • Thakor, Anjan

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.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3709.

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Date of creation: Jan 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3709
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  1. Prendergast, Canice, 1993. "A Theory of "Yes Men."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 757-70, September.
  2. Klaus Nehring & Giacomo Bonanno, 2003. "Agreeing To Disagree: A Survey," Working Papers 9718, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 473-91, June.
  5. 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.
  6. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
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