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Performance Effects of Imitative Entry

Sendil K. Ethiraj

University of Michigan - Stephen M. Ross School of Business

David H. Zhu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 29, No. 8, pp. 797-817, 2008

This paper examines how waiting to imitate a product affects the performance of the imitator compared to the innovator. Specifically, we address two research questions. Under what conditions does imitation erode the advantage of the innovator? What strategies of imitators help overcome the innovator's advantage? Our main argument is that the increasing availability of information on the innovator's product increases the imitator's returns to waiting. With this increasing availability of information, imitators' products transition from those that are horizontally differentiated (products are similar in quality but differ in their attributes) to those that are vertically differentiated (products differ in quality). Thus, we hypothesized that shifts in the nature of competition over time from horizontal differentiation to vertical differentiation accounts for why the innovator's advantage is not preserved. Imitation timing simply reflects the uncertainty inherent in imitation efforts. One such uncertainty is the extent of product differentiation that the imitator can achieve. We develop several hypotheses that elaborate this basic intuition. We obtained detailed data on innovator-imitator competition in the branded drug industry to test the hypotheses. All our hypotheses are supported. The main contribution of the paper is in showing that the nature of product differentiation in product categories is endogenous to the imitative entry decisions of firms.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: imitation, entry timing, product differentiation

JEL Classification: D21, D23, D43, D81, D83, L11, L15, L65, M21, O31

Accepted Paper Series

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Date posted: December 10, 2007 ; Last revised: September 6, 2008

Suggested Citation

Ethiraj, Sendil K. and Zhu, David H., Performance Effects of Imitative Entry. Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 29, No. 8, pp. 797-817, 2008 . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1066901

Contact Information

Sendil K. Ethiraj (Contact Author)
University of Michigan - Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )
701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States
734-764-1230 (Phone)
David H. Zhu
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Feedback to SSRN

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References:  47
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