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Keeping Your options Open

  • Jean Guillaume Forand

    (Department of Economics, University of Waterloo)

In standard models of experimentation, the costs of project development consist of (a) the direct cost of running trials as well as (b)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 optimal experimentation policies and show that the decision-maker's incentive to actively manage its options has important implication 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, optimal experimentation policies incentives to bring the option value of less promising projects forward, and under optimal experimentation policies, 'going -with-the-loser' can be optimal: projects that are less likely to succeed are sometimes developed rast.

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Paper provided by University of Waterloo, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1301.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2013
Date of revision: Feb 2015
Handle: RePEc:wat:wpaper:1301
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  1. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sundaram, Rangarajan K, 1992. "Denumerable-Armed Bandits," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1071-96, September.
  2. Sven Rady & Godfrey Keller, 2007. "Strategic Experimentation with Poisson Bandits," 2007 Meeting Papers 332, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Klein, Nicolas & Rady, Sven, 2008. "Negatively Correlated Bandits," CEPR Discussion Papers 6983, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Cripps, Martin & Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2003. "Strategic Experimentation with Exponential Bandits," Discussion Papers in Economics 4, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  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. Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2009. "Strategic Experimentation with Poisson Bandits," Discussion Papers in Economics 10575, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. Klein, Nicolas & Rady, Sven, 2008. "Negatively Correlated Bandits," Discussion Papers in Economics 5332, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. 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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