Arbeitspapier Nr. 5

Imitation – A strategic option of technology management

Schewe, Gerhard

There is often a clash between the necessity to innovate and the high economic risks involved in innovative products or processes. Therefore, management has to consider, if there are other strategies of successful technology management than to innovate. One might be the imitation of innovative products or processes. This paper analyzes the capabilities a firm must have in order to carry out an imitation successfully. For testing the hypotheses, the present study carried out a series of standardized interviews not only with the innovative firms but also with the firms which tried to introduce a corresponding imitation in the market. Using LISREL modelling it was shown that successful imitators must have certain capabilities in order to succeed in overcoming barriers to market entry built up by the imitator. These are: strengths in the areas of technology, marketing and production, and the existence of suitable information gathering capabilities. Furthermore, imitation projects are successful only if they also succeed in realizing a high degree of similarity to the innovative product and in impeding the market entry of further imitators.