Informational value

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In decision theory , information value is understood to be the information costs that a decision-maker may only incur without the procurement of information becoming detrimental to his decision . In positive terms, it represents the value that the improvement of a decision receives from the additional information obtained.


Decisions can only be made on the basis of the information and data available . In this context, information is “decision-oriented knowledge”. Information is only useless if it does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the future state of the environment .

The acquisition of information and data is not always free, but generates information costs. Information costs arise from the search , acquisition and use ( storage , processing , transmission ) of information in advance of a decision. These can be actual costs such as telephone charges (for means of communication ) or for an auditor's report (as an information carrier ). In addition, the correct (decision-relevant) information must be filtered out by the decision-maker from the multitude of additional information using time-consuming search processes, stored using an allocation decision and processed by IT . From a business point of view , the time required for this is considered to be opportunity costs , which are also part of the information costs .

A decision-maker must acquire and evaluate information relevant to decision-making before making a decision. In doing so, he has to weigh up whether the costs are reasonable with regard to the information benefit. The use of information is understood to mean the change in the degree of target achievement that can be brought about by taking additional information into account when making a decision. In other words, the difference between information use and information costs reflects the information value. Informational value is the critical value for which a decision maker is indifferent between receiving information and not receiving it. Obtaining information when preparing a decision is therefore only efficient until the marginal costs of the last information correspond to its marginal utility :

= .

In this situation, no more information is obtained, the decision problem is ready to be decided.


The information value was first proposed by Jacob Marschak in 1954 and introduced into German-language literature in 1969 by Horst Albach from a business point of view . Marschak understood this to mean the change in results that can be expected with the help of appropriate information.

According to Helmut Krcmar , three types of informational values ​​can be distinguished:

  • Normative information value: it is the difference between the value of the optimal alternative action after information and the value of the optimal alternative before information was obtained. By obtaining information, additional alternatives for action can be found or previous ones excluded.
  • Realistic information value is the profit that is generated by a decision which has arisen through the use of certain information.
  • A subjective information value depends on the level of knowledge and experience of a decision maker, comes about when decisions are made under time pressure and is difficult to access for a scientific analysis.

Determination of the information value

The information value always relates to the decision-making situation before knowledge of the information content. The information value results - if the decision-maker is risk-neutral - as the difference between the profit expected value (before deduction of information costs) for a decision with information acquisition and the profit expected value for a decision without information acquisition :

Receiving free information cannot put a decision-maker in a worse position:

The acquisition of chargeable information is advantageous as long as the information value is higher than the information costs :

The use of additionally obtained information makes a decision made more effective. The information value of additional information is, however, equal to zero if this does not lead to an improvement in the decision. However, it confirms the decision-maker in his decision, thus reducing the uncertainty . The information value is at its maximum when the information is complete and therefore the true expected value of a decision can be achieved. In most decision-making situations, however, there is no perfect (secure) information, at least the information costs of perfect information are so high that their acquisition can be excluded from the outset.

However, if the information costs exceed the information value, the decision maker will refrain from acquiring the information and decide on the basis of the information already available. If the information costs are taken into account, information procurement is advantageous if the information value is higher than the information costs.

The prerequisite for these statements is the risk neutrality of the decision maker. Other results emerge if he is risk-averse or risk-averse : the risk-taker tends to obtain less information so that the information value is of no particular importance to him and vice versa.

Information paradox

From the ex ante consideration of information value and information costs, contradictions can arise in the form of the information paradox.

  • Before information is obtained, its informational value is still unknown, so that its informational value only emerges after it has been obtained and could then turn out to be irrelevant to the decision. According to Dieter Schneider , a positive information value assumes that the use of the information changes a decision for the action alternative x into one for y. The decision maker will only find out later whether an item of information is of informational value in this sense.
  • If a decision-maker collects information only to support or justify his intuitive decision , the decision is not improved by the information, its informational value is zero.
  • The information value ultimately depends on the physiological condition of the decision-maker ( fatigue , illness ), the type of processing of information (scientific, popular) and how he understands it.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Mag, Decision and Information , 1977, p. 5
  2. Harald von Kortzfleisch , Information and Communication in the Industrial Enterprise , in: Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft (No. 8), 1973, p. 555
  3. Dirk Knauer, Act Big - New Approaches for Information Management , 2015, p. 72 f.
  4. Klaus Peter Kaas, Market Information: Screening and Signaling Among Partners and Rivals , in: Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft (No. 3), 1991, p. 358
  5. ^ Jacob Marschak, Remarks on the Economics of Information , in: Contributions to Scientific Research in Management, Cowles Foundation Paper 146, 1960, p. 80
  6. Horst Glaser, Informationswert , in: Erwin Grochla, Handwortbuch der Organization, 1980, Sp. 934
  7. Irving H. LaValle, On Cash Equivalents and Information Evaluation , in: Decisions under Uncertainty, Part I, in: Journal of the American Statistical Association, Volume 63, 1968, pp. 266 ff.
  8. ^ Jacob Marschak, Towards an Economic Theory of Organization and Information , in Robert M. Thrull (Ed.), Decision Processes, 1954, pp. 187-220
  9. Horst Albach, Informationswert , in: Erwin Grochla (Ed.), Handwortbuch der Organization, 1969, Sp. 720–727
  10. Helmut Krcmar, Introduction to Information Management , 2015, p. 36 ff.
  11. Helmut Laux / Robert M. Gillenkirch / Heike Y. Schenk-Mathes, Decision Theory , 2014, p. 323
  12. Martin Strumpler, Information Assessment under Ambiguity , 2011, p. 26 f.
  13. Thorsten Hagenloch, Fundamentals of Decision Making , 2009, p. 121 ff.
  14. Verlag Dr. Th. Gabler GmbH, Gabler Volkswirtschafts-Lexikon , 1990, p. 377
  15. Dieter Schneider, Theory of Enterprise , 1997, p. 218