Prevention of catastrophic failures with weak forewarning signals

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We consider the problem of a firm facing failures with weak forewarning signals. In the base model that we study, the firm watches for signals of a random arrival of a disruptive innovation and continuously updates the posterior probability that a disruptive innovation has already happened. A disruptive innovation is marked by a rapid increase in the growth rate of the market for a new technology, and it is followed by a random arrival of catastrophic failure of the firm. The firm can invest capital to adopt the innovation to prevent failure. The optimal policy is to adopt it when the posterior probability exceeds an optimally chosen threshold. We investigate the probability of failure under the optimal policy when the cost of failure is large and the arrival rate of disruptive innovation is low. The probability of failure is close to one if the arrival rate is extremely low while it is close to zero if the arrival rate is moderate. We also consider an extension of the base model to incorporate recurrence of disruptive innovation; when the arrival rate is moderate, the optimal threshold and the failure probability can be significantly larger than those of the base model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-144
Number of pages24
JournalProbability in the Engineering and Informational Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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