Should Firms Spend More on Research and Development and Advertising during Recessions? Academic Article uri icon


  • Whenever a recession occurs, there is a heated dialog among marketing academics and practitioners about the appropriate levels of marketing spending. In this article, the authors investigate whether firms should spend more on research and development (R&D) and advertising in recessions. They propose that the effects of changes in firms R&D and advertising spending in recessions on profits and stock returns are contingent on their market share, financial leverage, and product-market profile (i.e., business-to-consumer goods, business-to-business services, business-to-business goods, or business-to-consumer services). They estimate the model using a panel of more than 10,000 firm-years of publicly listed U.S. firms from 1969 to 2008, during which there were seven recessions. Their results support the contingency approach. The authors compute the marginal effects, which show how the effects of changes in R&D and advertising spending in recessions vary across firms. The marginal effects provide evidence of inadequate spending (e.g., 98% of business-to-consumer goods firms underspend on R&D), proactivity (e.g., 96% of business-to-business services firms are at approximately the right levels on advertising). and excess spending (e.g., 92% of business-to-consumer services firms overspend on advertising). Using the authors approach and publicly available data, managers can estimate the effects of their firms and competitors R&D and advertising spending on profits and stock returns in recessions.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Marketing

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • Srinivasan, R., Lilien, G. L., & Sridhar, S.

citation count

  • 149

complete list of authors

  • Srinivasan, Raji||Lilien, Gary L||Sridhar, Shrihari

publication date

  • May 2011