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Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book - worthreading, 7 Nov. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Real Options: Evaluating Corporate Investment Opportunities in a Dynamic World (Financial Times Series) (Hardcover)
This is an excellent book. I had been initially surprised by the critical reviews for Copeland et al. and Kulatilaka et al. (Copeland, especially, has strong credentials,) but now, having looked at those books, sadly I have to agree. Then I bought this book and found a gem. The approach is fresh and we are not just presented with the same familiar textbook routes; the best part of which is that real problems are not hammered into available but inappropriate analytical solutions. The structure of the book is unusual too: 4 chapters with the foundations (including some maths but fully accessible to managers - good diagrams and plenty of intuition), 6 chapters of case studies (one, "Dixpin" by Stark, written to link with Dixit & Pindyck, the others new and based on consulting/research - nice to see non-standard cases and also more than one underlying variable!), 4 more chapters (the title of the last, "Summary for executives", speaks volumes about the authors' helpful approach, even if you're not an executive!), and 5 appendices + glossary, etc. The appendices and cases are written in the same style as the chapters of main text and the result is a very flexible resource which, I think, will be helpful for beginners, thro' 2nd year MBA and up to quite advanced practitioners.
Even when standard techniques are shown they are given innovative explanations. For example, see pages 266-269 in Newton's Appendix 4, on numerical solution, which I believe is a genuinely new way of taking the well-known mathematical relationship between the Black-Scholes partial differential equation and the heat conduction equation but explaining it using common sense appreciation of heat and temperature (amazingly, he manages to obtain the combined call option payoff and stock price diagrams using a thought experiment in heat/temperature which I could actually understand!). In this single appendix are both the intuition for understanding the evolution of option prices and the details of finite difference calculations which any reader can readily reproduce. His explanation of the random walk for beginners (Appendix 5) is the best I have ever seen (I even liked the very British story about a drunken sailor taking a random walk near Her Majesty's Royal Naval Dockyard - fortunately, the book does not often digress with funny stories, but this one helped).
I am always wary of books with many co-authors (this one has seven) but here you could believe that one author wrote the whole book. Howell is the editor and presumably the author of the chapters which are not attributed; other parts are by different combinations of the seven. All are in the Real Options Group at Manchester Business School, England (Patel is at Cambridge) and that may explain the cohesion of the text.
In many ways this book is technically ahead of the game but you can tell that these guys are at a business school rather than a conventional university department - they know how to communicate with managers as well as students.
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