Are capitalized R&D and expensed R&D costs “sticky”? Korean evidence


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The purpose of this study is to investigate the cost behavior of research and development (R&D) expenditures. R&D costs can be divided into capitalized R&D expenditures and expensed R&D expenditures. The authors examine the cost behavior of total R&D expenditures, as well as the cost behavior of capitalized and expensed R&D expenditures. In addition, it is investigated how the cost behavior varies depending on company management performance. Research results document that the total cost of R&D and capitalized R&D expenditures are not affected by changes in sales. While the cost of expensed R&D has a positive relationship with sales changes, asymmetric cost behavior does not exist. However, when combined with such factors as successive declines in sales, performance, and economic growth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), asymmetric cost behavior emerges. In addition, the authors found that companies with high management performance smooth their earnings by expensing R&D expenditures as incurred rather than capitalizing them. For firms with high earnings, cost behavior of total R&D expenditures and capitalized R&D expenditures moves in the opposite direction of sales. That is, companies with high performance have low capitalization ratio of R&D. The results of this study are significant in that they expand the understanding of managers’ behaviors regarding R&D expenditures.

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    • Table 1. Descriptive statistics (n = 1,106)
    • Table 2. Correlation matrix (n = 1,106)
    • Table 3. Results of basic model (H1)
    • Table 4. Results of research model (H1)
    • Table 5. Results of extended research model (H1)
    • Table 6. Results of basic model (H2)
    • Table 7. Results of research model (H2)
    • Table 8. Results of extended research model (H2)