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decision treean aid to decision-making in uncertain conditions, that sets out alternative courses of action and the financial consequences of each alternative, and assigns subjective probabilities to the likelihood of future events occurring. For, example, a firm thinking of opening a new factory the success of which will depend upon consumer spending (and thus the state of the economy) would have a decision tree like Fig. 32.
In order to make a decision, the manager needs a decision criterion to enable him to choose which he regards as the best of the alternatives and, since these choices involve an element of risk, we therefore need to know something about his attitudes to risk. If the manager were neutral in his attitude to risk then we could calculate the certainty equivalent of the ‘open factory’ alternative using the expected money value criterion, which takes the financial consequence of each outcome and weights it by the probability of its occurrence, thus:
which being greater than the £0 for certain of not opening the factory would justify going ahead with the factory project.
However, if the manager were averse to risk then he might not regard the expected money value criterion as being appropriate, for he might require a risk premium to induce him to take the risk. Application of a more cautious certainty equivalent criterion would reduce the certainty equivalent of the ‘open factory’ branch and might even tip the decision against going ahead on the grounds of the ‘downside risk’ of losing £30,000.See UNCERTAINTY AND RISK.