Risk mitigation strategies for project management, platform development and supply chain design



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This dissertation studies strategies to mitigate the risks associated with operational and strategic decisions of a firm, particularly focusing on project management, product development and procurement decisions. In the first essay we develop two simulation-based methods to evaluate risky capital investment projects that involve managerial flexibility. Many risky projects are characterized by significant demand and operational risks (such as learning curve uncertainty) that are difficult to capture by simple stochastic processes. We propose using system dynamics simulations to estimate the cash flow resulting from these projects and build upon prior work on real options valuation in the decision analysis literature to develop two valuation algorithms. In the second essay we explore the technology investment decisions for platforms in markets that exhibit cross-network effects. We focus on the trade-off firms must make between investing new product development resources to increase a platform's core performance and functionality versus investments designed to leverage the platform's cross-network effects. Abstracting from examples drawn from multiple industries, we use a strategic model to gain intuition about how to make such trade-off decisions under competition. In the third essay, we analyze the optimal procurement strategy of a firm that faces supply and demand risk. In particular, the firm can source from two unreliable suppliers with different delivery characteristics. We study the optimal order allocation policy shaped by the trade-offs between delivery leadtime, reliability and procurement cost. Further, we discuss the value of leadtime flexibility in supply risk mitigation and highlight the role of an inferior supplier in a firm's multi-sourcing strategy. The main contribution of this dissertation to the operations management literature is two-fold. First, it illustrates the role of effective risk mitigation through operational strategies of leadtime flexibility and supply diversification as well as through recognizing managerial flexibility. Second, it highlights the importance of leveraging third-party content development while making technology investment decisions for platforms in two-sided markets.