Essays on finance and innovation

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Xiao, Chong
Chava, Sudheer
Nanda, Vikram
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This thesis investigates the impact of finance on technological innovation. In the first essay we study the causal relation between informativeness of stock prices and innovative efficiency. Using mutual fund flow-driven price pressure as an exogenous shock, we show that impairment of stock price efficiency diminishes innovative efficiency. In the year following the price-pressure shock, patents per R&D dollar drop by 4.7%, while citations are 26.2% lower. Consistent with market feedback, stock mispricing has a greater effect on innovative efficiency when there is less information available from other sources, such as insider information or peers' stock prices. We do not find evidence supporting alternative explanations such as the endogeneity of mutual fund trading, financing effect, managerial incentive, or shareholder short-termism. Overall, our findings show that stock markets improve real efficiency by providing useful market feedback. The second essay examines the implication of intellectual property protection (IP) to equity financing. Firms can protect IP by either keeping their inventions secret or seeking patent protection and disclosing the inventions. We expect the relative protection conferred by the methods to affect the choice between secrecy and patenting. Further, we expect the manner of IP protection to affect the information released by firms and, hence, their stock liquidity and cost of equity capital. For our empirical analysis, we rely on the exogenous passage of state-level statutes that strengthened trade secret protection. We show that stronger trade-secret protection increased opaqueness and reduced stock liquidity. Firms that raised equity capital after the enactment of trade secret statutes experienced more negative stock market reactions. By contrast, the implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), that strengthened patent protection, improved the transparency and stock liquidity of patenting firms. After TRIPS the stock market reaction to equity offering by these firms was also less negative. Our findings suggest that stronger patent protection encourages more information disclosure and reduces financing frictions, while stronger secrecy protection induces opaqueness and makes equity financing more difficult. In the third essay, we show that corporate investment in R&D declines sharply following a financial-covenant violation, wherein creditors can use the threat of accelerating the loan to press for changes in firm policies. The reduction in R&D is more severe in firms with low R&D efficiency i.e., when firm R&D is less productive in terms of ROA and delivers fewer patents and citations. It is striking that, despite decrease in R&D, covenant-violating firms do not suffer a drop in innovative output (patents and citations-to-patents). These results highlight that lenders are judicious in exercising their control rights after covenant violations and suggest that bank financing can be a viable source of financing for innovative firms.
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