When to Abandon a Research Project and Search for a New One
23 Pages Posted: 29 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 29, 2016
We investigate the cost of the opportunity delayed by working on one project with uncertain success rather than searching for a new project.
We answer the question: how long should a firm work on a research project with uncertain success before abandoning it if the only alternative is to search for a new project to work on? Rather than treating the opportunity as an exogenous alternative, this approach endogenizes the opportunity value and the attendant cost of its delay. We consider cases with both a finite and an infinite number of potential projects.
We derive the optimal stopping time and show that it increases with the discount rate and with the prior probability that the project can be successfully completed, and it decreases with the rates of new project arrival and project completion.
Keywords: Project management, Dynamic programming, Uncertainty, Bayesian updating, Optimal stopping
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