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Keywords:

  • contingent claims analysis in production operations;
  • control theory;
  • Merton's intertemporal capital asset pricing model;
  • stochastic dynamic programming, risk management in operations

Abstract

Characteristically, a small subset of operational problems admit risk neutrality when contingent claims methodology were used in their analysis. That is, for the majority of manufacturing and production problems, operating cash flows are not directly linked to prices of traded assets. However, to the extent that correlations can be estimated, the methodology's applicability to a broader set of operational problems is supported. Our article addresses this issue with the objective of extending the use of contingent claims techniques to a larger set of operational problems. In broad terms, this objective entails a partial equilibrium approach to the problem of valuing uncertain cash flows. To this end, we assume risk aversion and cast our approach within Merton's intertemporal capital asset pricing model. In this context, we formulate a “generic” production valuation model that is framed as an exercise in stochastic optimal control. The model is versatile in its characterization and can easily be adapted to accommodate a wide-ranging set of risk-based operational problems where the underlying sources of uncertainty are not traded. To obtain results, the model is recast as a stochastic dynamic program to be solved numerically. The article addresses a number of fundamental issues in the analysis risk based decision problems in operations. First, in the approach provided, decisions are analyzed under a properly defined risk structure. Second, the process of analysis leads to suitably adjusted probability distributions through which, appropriately discounted expectations are derived. Third, through consolidating existing concepts into a standard and adaptable framework, we extend the applicability of contingent claims methodology to a broader set of operational problems. The approach is advantageous as it obviates the need for exogenously specifying utility functions or discount rates.© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics, 2011