Information Is Less Useful If No Action Can Be Taken In Response
For instance, flooding and loss during monsoon seasons is a way of life in low-lying developing countries. In many places, however, people can take few precautionary actions in response to flood forecasts. This principle suggests that even data that are spatially and temporally well scaled for a community may serve little use in some situations. (This example also suggests that the value of information is necessarily linked with other actions—such as incentives to change building practices along low-lying coastal areas or the size of premiums charged for flood insurance—that will influence how people adapt in response to information.)
Information May Have Value If an Action Deliberately Is Not Taken
The U.S. agricultural sector, for example, could face an export market in which farmers in another country may decide not to irrigate—even when severe drought is forecast—unless the expected world price for the crop in the longer run is large enough to recoup irrigation costs.
Much like the previous case—incapacity or weak incentives to take action in response to information—deliberately deciding not to take action depends on a host of circumstances additional to the information itself. For this reason, researchers applying value-of-information assessments have pointed out that care needs to be taken if the metric is the action of a person using the information. Failure to observe an action may mask the decision to not take action.
An Increase in Information May Not Reduce Uncertainty But May Still Be Worth Acquiring
Examples abound in the case of information collected as part of scientific research, where additional data can lead to more questions rather than answers, or medical testing, where additional results may fail to confirm prior diagnoses. An outcome of more uncertainty ex post—that is, after information collection—does not mean that the information lacks value. It simply means we knew less than we thought we did.