The Curse of the First-Mover: When Incremental Innovation Leads to Radical Change

International Journal of Collaborative Enterprise, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 4–21, 2009

18 Pages Posted: 13 May 2009 Last revised: 7 May 2014

Thierry Rayna

Novancia Business School Paris

Ludmila Striukova

University College London

Date Written: May 1, 2009

Abstract

The literature establishes a strong link between radical innovation, first-mover advantage and market dominance. However, there are numerous examples where, despite being the first-mover and radically innovating, companies have failed to achieve a significant market share. In fact, incremental innovation can, sometimes, influence the industry in a more significant way than radical innovation. The aim of this article is to investigate the relation between radical innovation, incremental innovation and market dominance. It explains why radical innovation and first-mover advantage might fail to provide competitive advantage and weaken companies. In order to do so, the article examines the key determinants of why first-movers may face a disadvantage in comparison to followers. These theoretical results are supported by the case study of four products released by Apple, two of which correspond to radical innovations and to others to incremental innovation.

Keywords: incremental innovation, radical innovation, first-mover advantage, digital audio player, Apple, iPod, iMac, Lisa, Newton

Suggested Citation

Rayna, Thierry and Striukova, Ludmila, The Curse of the First-Mover: When Incremental Innovation Leads to Radical Change (May 1, 2009). International Journal of Collaborative Enterprise, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 4–21, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1404015

Thierry Rayna (Contact Author)

Novancia Business School Paris ( email )

3 Rue Armand Moisant
Paris, 75015
France

Ludmila Striukova

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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