Previous studies document that investing in research and development is a key factor to keep firm survive in the long-run. This study instead focuses on the relationship between managerial role and R&D decisions. Specifically, we investigate whether more talented managers facilitate firms’ R&D investment. Using the MA-score as a proxy for managerial ability, we find that more able managers increase R&D spending. Furthermore, the results show that more talented managers decide to invest more in R&D investment depending on several conditions, such as whether firms are financially unconstrained or in non-crisis period. Other conditions include whether firms are facing lower default probability, in competitive industries, and with some CEOs’ characteristics, such as male, young age, higher granted stock option and higher salary.