R&D or R vs. D? Firm Innovation Strategy and Equity Ownership
30 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2019
Date Written: November 18, 2019
We analyze a unique dataset that separately reports research and development expenditures for a large panel of public and private firms. Definitions of “research” and “development” in this dataset, respectively, correspond to definitions of knowledge “exploration” and “exploitation” in the innovation theory literature. We can thus test theories of how equity ownership status relates to innovation strategy. We find that public firms have greater research intensity than private firms, inconsistent with theories asserting private ownership is more conducive to exploration. We also find public firms invest more intensely in innovation of all sorts. These results suggest relaxed financing constraints enjoyed by public firms, as well as their diversified shareholder bases, make them more conducive to investing in all types of innovation. Reconciling several seemingly conflicting results in prior research, we find private-equity-owned firms, though not less innovative overall than other private firms, skew their innovation strategies toward development and away from research.
Keywords: research, development, innovation, private equity, ownership
JEL Classification: G31, G32, G34, G23
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