Publication date (electronic): 30 June 2005
Going beyond real options reasoning
In business, as in nature, situational agility is a condition for access to resources and hence for adaptation and survival. But can strategy deliver such agility? And does the intentionality of individual players help to shape the strategy? Real options reasoning (ROR) theoretically secures a part for strategy to play, both in creating valuable resources and in adaptation. Yet because ROR adopts an essentially linear approach, it significantly understates both the value-creating and the adaptive potential of such a part. In this paper we argue firstly that those who draw upon ecological metaphors of organizations have largely ignored the role of strategic choice in value-creation and that ROR provides a good basis for the exercise of flexibility-preserving choices. Secondly we argue that the adroit use of multiple interacting options allows firms to harness the power of complexity thinking to the creation of value and to adapt to a greater range of environmental contingencies than is on offer in either the economic or financial treatment of options. Multiple interacting options thus extend the power of ROR to cover more complex and uncertain situations.
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