Essays on Financial Constraints, R&D Investments, and Competition

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This dissertation consists of two chapters of theoretical studies that investigate the effect of financial constraints and market competition on research and development (R&D) investments. In the first chapter, I explore the impact of financial constraints on two different types of R&D investments. In the second chapter, I examine the impact of market competition on the relationship between financial constraints and R&D investments.

In the first chapter, I develop a dynamic monopoly model to study a firm’s R&D strategy. Contrary to intuition, I show that a financially constrained firm may invest more aggressively in R&D projects than an unconstrained firm. Financial constraints introduce a risk that a firm may run out of money before its project bears fruit, which leads to involuntary termination on an otherwise positive-NPV project. For a company that relies on cash flow from assets in place to keep its R&D project alive, early success can be relatively important. I find that when the discovery process can be expedited by heavier investment (“accelerable” projects), a financially constrained company may find it optimal to “over”-invest in order to raise the probability of project survival. The over-investment will not happen if the project is only “scalable” (investment scales up payoffs). The model generates several testable implications regarding over-investment and project values.

In the second chapter, I study the effects of competition on R&D investments in a duopoly framework. Using a homogeneous duopoly model where two unconstrained firms compete head to head in an R&D race, I find that competition has no effect on R&D investment if the project is not accelerable, and the competing firms are not constrained. In a heterogeneous duopoly model where a financially constrained firm competes against an unconstrained firm, I discover interesting strategic interactions that lead to preemption by the constrained firm in equilibrium. The unconstrained competitor responds to its constrained rival’s investment in an inverted-U shape fashion. When the constrained competitor has high cash flow risk, it accelerates the innovation in equilibrium, while the unconstrained firm invests less aggressively and waits for its rival to quit the race due to shortage of funds.