R&D Reporting Rule and Firm Efficiency

Nilabhra Bhattacharya, Yoshie Saito, Ramgopal Venkataraman, Jeff Jiewei Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Critics opine that full expensing of research and development (R&D) depresses near-term profits and incentivizes myopic managers to under-invest in R&D, compromising firm efficiency. Advocates of the expensing rule argue that little rigorous research evidence supports the claimed adverse consequences. We examine the impact of the R&D expensing rule on firm efficiency by exploiting an exogenous shock: a shift in the accounting regime in Germany from full expensing to partial capitalization of R&D when it mandated International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) adoption in 2005. We employ Stochastic Frontier Analysis and Data Envelopment Analysis to estimate efficiency for the same German firms before and after the IFRS adoption. We find robust evidence of efficiency improvement in the post-period relative to the pre-period for German R&D firms that report R&D expenditures, and for both early adopters and timely adopters. We also document that financially constrained firms and firms experiencing rapid R&D growth prior to the IFRS adoption show greater efficiency improvement. Moreover, we conduct three falsification tests to make sure our results are not attributable to other accounting changes associated with the IFRS adoption, and find no efficiency improvement for the three control groups (German “no-R&D” sample, U.K. firms, and Australian firms), respectively. We conclude that the change in the R&D reporting rule is the likely catalyst for improvements in efficiency of German R&D firms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-363
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • IFRS
  • R&D
  • efficiency
  • intangible

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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