Research and development (R&D) in business refers to activities geared towards new product development or current product improvement. It typically involves conceptualizing and designing new products and then tailoring them to meet the needs of the target market. R&D is often a line item on a company’s income statement. Technology and pharmaceutical companies often have comparatively high research and development spending because these industries are very research-intensive. Substantive spending on R&D can also be a sign that a company is growing or expanding.
In accounting, there is some controversy over whether research and development spending should be considered an asset with future benefits for the company or whether it should be expensed in the period when it is incurred. Some claim that because R&D is part of the process of creating new products, it should be considered an asset with future benefits to the firm and expensed when the new products are eventually sold. Others claim that research and development is a regular operating expense, and it should be expensed in the period in which it is incurred.
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