Richard Jensen and Dean M. Showalter
"Strategic debt and patent races"
JEL codes: L0, L1, L6, G3
Keywords: strategic debt, capital structure

Abstract: Most traditional studies of R&D do not consider that the use of leverage to finance R&D may affect total R&D expenditures in a patent race. We show that debt acts as a commitment to a smaller amount of total R&D spending (debt+equity) than would occur if firms were entirely equity financed. A commitment to lower R&D expenditure can be strategically beneficial; under a flow-cost model, debt induces lower R&D expenditure from its rival and thus increases its expected profit. Firms in this case are partially debt-financed in equilibrium. In a fixed cost model, debt has no strategic value in a symmetric equilibrium. In this case debt induces higher R&D expenditure from its rival and thus decreases its expected profit. Firms in this case use no strategic debt, and may in fact use "negative" strategic debt; that is, in a more general model where debt has other uses, the total debt level is reduced when the strategic effect is included. Our empirical study gives support to the fixed, up-front R&D result that higher debt levels are associated with lower overall R&D expenditures.
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