Protection of trade secrets and value of cash holdings: Evidence from a natural experiment

Rajib Chowdhury, John A. Doukas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We examine whether the protection of trade secrets by restricting the mobility of knowledgeable employees through the adoption of the legal Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine (IDD), an exogenous event, increases the marginal value of corporate cash holdings by reducing the uncertainty of future cash flows, and how that value differs across firms in IDD recognizing and non- recognizing states. We find that the marginal value of cash holdings increases (decreases) significantly in states in which the IDD has (not) been recognized through increases (decreases) in firm value and performance. A battery of robustness tests reveals that the effect of the IDD is more pronounced in firms with high R&D activities. Overall, the evidence shows that the IDD acts as a mechanism that inhibits the mobility of key employees and, thus, reduces the probability of the misappropriation of knowledge-based human capital assets. That is, the IDD creates an opportunity for firms to efficiently use cash to increase firm value - rather than using cash to protect trade secrets from rivals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106617
JournalJournal of Banking and Finance
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

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