When to abandon a research project and search for a new one

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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 this 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, with the rate of arrival of project failure, and with the prior probability that the project can be successfully completed. The optimal stopping time decreases with the rates of new project arrival and project completion.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McCardle, KF; Tsetlin, I; Winkler, RL

Published Date

  • May 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 66 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 799 - 813

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1526-5463

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0030-364X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1287/opre.2017.1701

Citation Source

  • Scopus