The power of imperfect imitation
Article first published online: 9 AUG 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic Management Journal
Volume 34, Issue 2, pages 149–164, February 2013
How to Cite
Posen, H. E., Lee, J. and Yi, S. (2013), The power of imperfect imitation. Strat. Mgmt. J., 34: 149–164. doi: 10.1002/smj.2007
- Issue published online: 26 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 9 AUG 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 18 JUL 2012 08:17AM EST
- Manuscript Revised: 15 JUL 2012
- Manuscript Received: 17 AUG 2010
- bounded rationality;
- industry evolution
We examine the power and limitations of imitation. Naive intuition may hold that the efficacy of imitation would be diminished by imperfections in copying high-performing firms. Employing a computational model, we study the dynamics of imitation when firms are subject to bounded rationality that limits their ability to copy the market leader. We find that imperfect imitation can generate unexpectedly good outcomes for follower firms—indeed, better than the outcomes achieved if they were perfect imitators. Moreover, imperfect imitation, from time to time, enables follower firms to surpass superior firms. These findings suggest there is an adaptive role to mechanisms, such as bounded rationality, that make perfect imitation difficult. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.