Terminal investment timing decisions in a competitive setting with uncertainty using a real option approach

Shiyuan Zheng*, Rudy R. Negenborn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses a real option approach to analyze terminal investment timing decisions for situations in which a port faces competition from its rivals in an uncertain market. We propose a network model to describe carriers’ cargo routing decisions and competition among rival ports. We then transform this model into a multicommodity flow problem and use the column generation algorithm to solve it. After obtaining a port’s possible future annual revenues and the potential net present value (NPV) for its terminal construction project through the network model, we adopt the expanded NPV rule and transform the investment timing decision into an optimal stopping problem. A least squares Monte Carlo simulation algorithm is proposed to find the investing probabilities for future years. The proposed models are applied to a steel cargo terminal investment case in the Port of Bengbu in Anhui province of China. The impacts on the investing probability and the expanded NPV of changes in the demand volatility, the initial investment and the port discharging rate are analyzed to provide managerial insights for port managers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-411
JournalMaritime Policy and Management: an international journal of shipping and port research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • LSM
  • MCF
  • real options
  • Terminal investment
  • timing decision


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