Effects of foreign acquisitions on R&D activity: Evidence from firm-level data for France
This paper investigates the causal effect of foreign acquisitions on the research and development (R&D) activities of domestic target firms over the period 1994-2004. Using accounting data on French innovative manufacturing firms, we implement appropriate difference-in-difference estimation techniques associated with a matching propensity score procedure. We find that the acquisitions of French firms by foreign companies boost R&D spending. There is a simultaneous rise in the external and in-house R&D expenditures of French acquired firms. R&D is more contracted out to local research providers, in particular to local public laboratories and universities. The increase in internal R&D spending benefits to development, but also basic and applied research. Finally, the growth of the R&D budget is not only financed by internal resources but also receives financing from external partners, especially parent companies. Thus, our results call into question the idea that foreign takeovers hamper the R&D development of target firms and are detrimental to the national innovation system of the host country. First, acquisitions appear to bring efficiency gains enough to counterbalance the various costs of integration and market power effects, pushing firms to invest more in R&D. Acquisitions do not seem to incite managers to take shorter term and more financial driven decisions at the expense of R&D. Second, when motivated by technology sourcing and overseas R&D development, acquisitions might be used to access the specific know-how of target firms and to tap into the knowledge of the national innovation system. Then, purchaser firms could be more likely to develop the innovative capability of target firms and to strengthen their linkages with local partners than to reduce them and relocate R&D abroad.
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