In this paper, we consider the relationship between the investment decision process and returns to investments in capabilities. We draw on characteristics of capabilities to develop a framework that identifies four components of the returns to an investment that are derived from industry-based versus firm-specific elements, and option and non-option elements. We then link these components to elements of the resource allocation process. In taking this approach we place the study of real options into the larger investment context, recognizing that they co-exist with and should be understood in conjunction with other investment characteristics. These arguments highlight the importance of connecting the investment process with realization of returns, thereby providing the conceptual foundations for a decision tool.