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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 6, 2015

Business Valuation Inspired by the Austrian School

Michael Olbrich, Tobias Quill and David J. Rapp

Abstract

The significant failure rates observed in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) indicate structural deficiencies in business transactions. This paper identifies serious weaknesses in common valuation methods that play a key role in poor transaction practice. Common valuation methods are in particular discounted cash flow (DCF) methods. DCF methods are usually based on neo-classical theories that assume the existence of a perfect and complete capital market. As will be demonstrated, the underlying theoretical patchwork is contradictory and lacks utility. Therefore, utilizing DCF methods to value a business and deduce economic decisions from such a valuation is decision-making built on sand. Following a normative-deductive methodology, this paper seeks an alternative theoretical concept to build a business valuation theory on solid ground. Such an alternative is found in the Austrian School of thought. The resulting valuation concept, subjective business valuation theory, is based on the theory of marginal utility proposed by Gossen, which was rediscovered and refined by the scholars of the early Austrian School. Contrary to highly restrictive neo-classical valuation, subjective business valuation approaches reality and is therefore well-suited for practical implementation.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the participants at the Austrian Economics Research Seminar held in Paris in fall 2013 for their helpful comments on a previous version of this paper. Particular thanks are owed to Guido Hülsmann, Xavier Méra and Marian Eabrasu. Moreover, the authors wish to acknowledge the valuable comments of James P. Catty (IACVA) and two anonymous reviewers.

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Published Online: 2015-2-6
Published in Print: 2015-1-1

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