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Firm boundaries matter: Evidence from conglomerates and R&D activity

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  • Seru, Amit

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of the conglomerate form on the scale and novelty of corporate Research and Development (R&D) activity. I exploit a quasi-experiment involving failed mergers to generate exogenous variation in acquisition outcomes of target firms. A difference-in-differences estimation reveals that, relative to failed targets, firms acquired in diversifying mergers produce both a smaller number of innovations and also less-novel innovations, where innovations are measured using patent-based metrics. The treatment effect is amplified if the acquiring conglomerate operates a more active internal capital market and is largely driven by inventors becoming less productive after the merger rather than inventor exits. Concurrently, acquirers move R&D activity outside the boundary of the firm via the use of strategic alliances and joint ventures. There is complementary evidence that conglomerates with more novel R&D tend to operate with decentralized R&D budgets. These findings suggest that conglomerate organizational form affects the allocation and productivity of resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Seru, Amit, 2014. "Firm boundaries matter: Evidence from conglomerates and R&D activity," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 381-405.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:111:y:2014:i:2:p:381-405
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2013.11.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conglomerates; Theory of firm; Innovation; R&D; Mergers; Incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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