Imitation is a common practice within and across industries. Recent research has begun to explore the potential of imitation as a purposeful strategy. But the question of what constitutes a “good” imitation strategy is as yet not well understood. This study examines the efficacy of two canonical strategies oriented towards imitating the: (a) best-performing firm and (b) best-practices of leading firms. We find that the best-performer imitation strategy is robust and superior across a wide variety of circumstances. In contrast, the best-practices strategy is sensitive to how firms (and knowledge) are clustered in the industry. Our analysis on the imitation process illustrates how firms’ imitation strategy influences the degree to which firm clusters diverge and how much of the cluster heterogeneity is harnessed via boundary-crossing imitation.
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Annual Meeting of Strategic Management Society, 2014