abstract Sociological-based information theory and economics-based competitive rivalry theory operate as the dominant theories of interorganizational mimetic behaviour. Recent work has sought to integrate the ideas in these theories, or determine which has greater explanatory power. In this study, we juxtapose the concepts in these two theories, to illustrate the complementary nature of information-based and rivalry-based theories of mimetic behaviour. Specifically, we consider how the predictions of information-based theories are moderated by the home competitive context of the industry of a firm making an international expansion. Using a 1980 to 2002 sample of 4949 manufacturing plant entries made into 71 foreign countries by 783 publicly-listed Japanese manufacturing firms, we find that the competitive context in the home industry influences the propensity of a focal firm to imitate the actions of rival firms. Our results support our contention that the two theoretical approaches are complementary, with the complementarities extending from the limitations of each approach.