di Giuseppe Marzo
pubblicato in Visualising Intangibles: Measuring and Reporting in the Knowledge Economy, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Aldershot (UK), 2007, pp. 31-48
The possibility to employ Real Options Theory (ROT) for intangible assets’ valuation seems to be very promising. Nevertheless, the ROT attitude for valuing “fluid” situations, where a pre-ordinate path to follow does not exist, can easily disguise the complexity of intangible assets’ valuation.
This chapter addresses the problem of a balanced assessment of the usefulness of ROT for valuing IAs, analysing the pros and the cons of ROT. Firstly, it tries to underline the reasons that can justify a real options approach to the problem of IAs’ valuation. Other papers (e.g., Bouteiller 2002; Bose and Oh 2003) have already proposed ROT for IAs’ valuation, but they offer reasons too generalised for a ROT-based valuation. On the contrary, this paper aims to demonstrate that a real options lens can be fruitfully employed for capturing the economic substance of IAs, so making ROT effective in their valuation.
Moreover, the chapter recognises that a ROT-based valuation of IAs cannot leave out neither the relationship between existing IAs and the one to be valued, nor the analysis of how such existing assets influence the ROT-based value of an on going IAs investment. To reach these points, the chapter presents the investment life-cycle model, where each single phase can be analysed in terms of real options that become available and the role of IAs in providing support to their value.
The second goal of the paper is to present some criticisms to ROT, especially when applied for valuing IAs. As for this point, the paper analyses the problems arising from the relationship between value and uncertainty of a real option, and the techniques used for calculating the value of a real option.
Throughout the paper, a distinction is made between existing IAs and investment creating (or able to create) new IAs. Such a distinction can be sometimes very clear, but other times it can be fuzzy. To better clarify it and in order to facilitate the reading of the paper, it should be noted that an investment creating new IAs can sometimes consist in putting existing IAs at work but in new forms. The possibility to employ a patented technology in other business and the opportunity to extend a firm’s brand are example of such situations.
For avoiding any confusion, the paper will deal with the example of a research project, giving so the possibility to unambiguously appreciate the different role of existing IAs with respect to the investment to be valued.
The points above presented correspond each one to a specific section of the paper. After a short presentation of ROT, the chapter shows how to use real options lens for re-interpreting IAs’ features, presents the real options available along the investment life-cycle, and finally examines the criticisms of a ROT-based valuation
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