Incorporating real-options analysis into the accounting curriculum

David E. Stout, Howard Qi, Yan (Alice) Xie, Sheen Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this paper, we argue that accounting curricula should be expanded to cover the topic of real options. Our argument relies on reference to the [American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) (1999) (Core Competency Framework, New York, NY: AICPA <> Accessed 21.08.08], the framework for curriculum change espoused by [Arya, A., Fellingham, J. C., & Schroeder, D. A. (2003). An academic curriculum proposal. Issues in Accounting Education, 18(1) 29-35], a global study of core competencies for management accountants [International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), (2002). Competency profiles for management accounting practice and practitioners. New York, NY: International Federation of Accountants], a global capital-budgeting "best practices statement" [International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), (2008). International good practice guidance: Project appraisal using discounted cash flow. New York, NY: International Federation of Accountants], current specifications of the CMA exam [Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), (2008). Certified management accountant (CMA) learning outcome statements (effective 07/01/04), updated 07/2008. <> Accessed 29.10.08.], and elements of the Albrecht and Sack report [Albrecht, W. S., & Sack, R. J. (2000). Accounting education: Charting the course through a perilous future. Accounting education series, Vol. 16. Sarasota, FL: American Accounting Association]. We make special reference to the linkage of the topic of real options to two broad educational goals: decision-modeling and risk analysis. Existing resources that accounting faculty can use to incorporate real options into the curriculum are limited. As a response, we provide an extended example that accounting educators can use to cover the topic of real options. This example uses a set of binomial trees (one for cash inflows and another for cash outflows). The step-by-step approach presented in this paper allows students without a technical/mathematical background to extend discounted-cash-flow (DCF) decision models (e.g., NPV) to incorporate real options that are embedded in proposed investment projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-230
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Accounting Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Binomial trees
  • Capital budgeting
  • Investment analysis
  • Real options
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Education


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