Managing capital market frictions via cost-reduction investments
Manufacturing & Service Operations Management
88 - 105
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Problem definition: We examine how the presence of capital market frictions influences the decision to invest in production cost reduction and the resultant production volume. This investment can increase the firm’s cash flow by increasing the profit margin, but it can also decrease the firm’s risk-free cash reserves and thus affect its exposure to capital market frictions. Academic/practical relevance: Process improvement aimed at production cost reduction has generated myriad of theoretical questions about efficient investment options and capacity choices. From a managerial perspective, process improvement is a fundamental concern in operations strategy. Nevertheless, its analysis typically excludes financial constraints by assuming a perfect capital market. Methodology: We formulate a two-stage profit maximization model in which a capital-constrained firm commits to a cost-reduction investment in the first stage in anticipation of its production decision in the second stage of this two-stage decision process. The firm considers capital market frictions when making decisions at each stage, while considering uncertainty in demand for its offering and in reducing its unit production cost. Results: When a firm faces small initial capital and low preinvestment unit production costs, it can benefit from investing in production cost reduction in the presence of capital market frictions more so than in their absence. Moreover, uncertainty in the production cost reduction mitigates the impact of market frictions on the net benefit (i.e., additional profit), whereas demand uncertainty decreases the feasible parameter space, where investing in production cost reduction is optimal. Managerial implications: A firm’s decision to invest in production cost reduction affects its operational and financial capabilities. Managers should thus consider this investment as an operational hedge not only against the uncertainty of matching supply and demand but also against exposure to capital market frictions and the resultant financial risk.
Capital market frictions