The Impact of Research and Development on the Financial Sustainability of Information Technology (IT) Companies Listed on the S&P 500 Index

  •  Priyanka Dave    
  •  Varun Wadhwa    
  •  Shrey Aggarwal    
  •  A. Seetharaman    


This paper attempts to determine the impact of research and development (R&D) expenditure on the financial sustainability of the IT industry as represented by the IT companies listed on the S&P 500 index. The impact of R&D expenditure on the intermediate variables of marketing performance, gross margin and technological performance is first ascertained. Further, the impact of each of these intermediate variables on financial sustainability, i.e. the return on assets (ROA), is determined. The empirical result shows that financial sustainability is most strongly affected by gross margins, which in turn are strongly impacted on by R&D (Note 1) intensity. R&D expenditure has a positive impact on sales revenues but a negative impact on technological performance. However, technological performance has a positive impact on financial sustainability. The non-availability of the decomposition of R&D expenditure in the annual reports of these companies poses a limitation to our research. Further, the impact of the time lag between the point at which R&D expenditure is incurred and the point at which it starts to contribute to financial sustainability varies from firm to firm, thereby making it difficult to ascertain the impact of R&D on financial sustainability. However, the results from our study pinpoint a very significant relationship between R&D intensity and gross margins. This also forms the backbone of the pricing strategy formulated by IT companies. Further, there is a very significant relationship between gross margins and financial sustainability, which is measured by ROA (Note 2).

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