In a rapidly changing business environment, successful enterprises are becoming more innovative and increasing resources are allocated to research and development of new ideas, products, processes, services and systems. Consequently, the disclosure of information on research and development costs in the financial statements of enterprises is becoming more important to the users of these statements.
The aim of this study is to establish the extent to which South African listed companies disclose information on research and development costs in accordance with generally accepted accounting practice in their financial statements. The report of the Foundation for Research Development (1997) on, Innovation Patterns in South African Manufacturing Firms, is used to identify the South African listed companies that are involved in research and development. The information in this report is compared to the financial statements of the selected companies for the financial years ending from 1994 to 1997.
The study found that the financial statements of the companies in the sample in 1994 did not provide the information on research and development costs required by AC122. In subsequent years (1995-1997) the companies disclosed more of the information on research and development costs required by the statement. Only one company in the sample actually capitalised development costs.