Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Joshua Rosett

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The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the following: What impact, if any, have operational changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had on firm performance? Out of every identified impact COVID-19 has had on firm operational tendencies, a common thread was found that firms have been forced to operate without being able to leverage their tangible assets to drive performance. Businesses that have adopted new ways to work have boomed, producing previously unimagined gains in productivity and speed even as the nature of their workplace has changed. Those who have not leaned into this developing shift run the risk of being passed by those who have embraced a modern and versatile operating model. Drawing from previous literature concerning the relationship between intangible assets and firm performance, this paper looks to investigate whether 2020 has rapidly accelerated the shift to intangible assets as the main driver of profitability and market value, as indicated by accounting ratios ROA, ROE, and Tobin's Q. Using a sample of 6,028 firms years found through COMPUSTAT North America between the 2000-2020 period, this paper finds that firms with more intangible assets have better financial performance and market value. Additionally, firms who spent more on research and development in 2020 had better financial performance and a lower market value than in previous years (2000-2019). These findings indicate that intangible assets, as well as investments in innovation, have become a necessary component of corporate strategy for firms to maintain a competitive advantage in the modern world.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.