The Effect of Competition on R&D Portfolio Investments

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Abstract

Although project portfolio management has been an active research area over the past 50 years, budget allocation models that consider competition are sparse. Faced with the competition, firms contemplating budget allocation for their project portfolio cannot limit their attention to the returns from their projects' target markets, as is the case for monopoly firms, but must also anticipate the competitive effects on these returns. Assuming firms allocate their budgets between projects offering incremental innovation targeting a mature market and projects offering radical innovation targeting an emerging market, we show that while the monopoly firm bases its budget allocation decision solely on the marginal returns of the markets, competing firms—as they take into account their counterparts' investment decisions—need to also consider the projects' average returns from their respective markets. This drives competing firms into incrementalism: faced with competition, firms invest larger portions of their budgets into projects targeting mature markets. This effect is amplified as the number of competing firms increases and firms allocate an even greater share of their budget into projects targeting a mature market. We further demonstrate the effects that changes to firms' individual budgets, as well as to market characteristics, have on firms' budget allocation decision.

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