Option-based risk management: A field study of sequential information technology investment decisions

Michel Benaroch, Mark Jeffery, Robert J. Kauffman, Sandeep Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


This field study research evaluates the viability of applying an option-based risk management (OBRiM) framework, and its accompanying theoretical perspective and methodology, to real-world sequential information technology (IT) investment problems. These problems involve alternative investment structures that bear different risk profiles for the firm, and also may improve the payoffs of the associated projects and the organization's performance. We sought to surface the costs, benefits, and risks associated with a complex sequential investment setting that has the key features that OBRiM treats. We combine traditional, purchased real options that subsequently create strategic flexibility for the decision maker, with implicit or embedded real options that are available with no specific investment required provided the decision maker recognizes them. This combination helps the decision maker to both (1) explicitly surface all of his or her strategic choices and (2) accurately value those choices, including ones that require prior enabling investments. The latter permits senior managers to adjust a project's investment trajectory in the face of revealed risk. This normally is important when there are uncertain organizational, technological, competitive, and market conditions. The context of our research is a data mart consolidation project, which was conducted by a major airline firm in association with a data warehousing systems vendor. Field study inquiry and data collection were essential elements in the retrospective analysis of the efficacy of OBRiM as a means to control risk in a large-scale project. We learned that OBRiM's main benefits are (1) the ability to generate meaningful option-bearing investment structures, (2) simplification of the complexities of real options for the business context, (3) accuracy in analyzing the risks of IT investments, and (4) support for more proactive planning. These issues, which we show are more effectively addressed by OBRiM than the other methods, have become crucial as more corporate finance-style approaches are applied to IT investment and IT services problems. Our evaluative study shows that OBRiM has the potential to add value for managers looking to structure risky IT investments, although some aspects still require refinements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-140
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Management Information Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Data marts
  • Data warehouses
  • IT investment
  • IT services
  • Investment valuation
  • Options
  • Risk management
  • Services science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Information Systems and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Option-based risk management: A field study of sequential information technology investment decisions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this