The Effect of Takeover Activity on Corporate Research and Development
NBER Working Paper No. 2191 (Also Reprint No. r1091)
It is widely thought that increases in corporate mergers and acquisitions of the sort which the United States has experienced in the recent past lead to a reduction in such long term investment activities as R&D because of a shortened horizon on the part of managers. This paper uses a newly created dataset containing all acquisitions of publicly traded firms in the manufacturing sector in the last ten years to answer some basic questions which pertain to this issue. I find that the firms involved in acquisitions and mergers where both partners are in the manufacturing sector have roughly the same pattern of R&D spending as the sector as a whole and that the acquisition itself does not cause a reduction in R&D activity on the part of these firms. Moreover, the R&D capital thus acquired is valued more highly by the acquiring firm than by the stock market. On the other hand, I also find that the substantial increase in the number and size of acquisitions made by privately held firms in the eighties is concentrated primarily on firms with low R&D intensity which also are in non-R&D intensive industries. Because the pattern of low investment in R&D is longstanding, and because the firms taken over have less rather than more R&D capital than the industry as a whole, it seems unlikely that the recent increase in takeover activity has had a significantly negative effect on R&D spending in these industries.