Imitation to Innovation: Late Movers’ Catch-up Strategy and Technological Leadership Change

Abstract:

Little attention has been devoted to the question of how late movers overcome first-mover advantage and catch up with incumbents. We examine the role in catch-up of late movers’ optimal resource allocation between innovation and imitation. Building on Nelson and Winter’s (1982) technology learning and competition model, we develop computational models of late movers’ R&D allocation strategy and technological leadership change. The results suggest that one-sided dependency upon either imitation or innovation deters technological leadership change by late movers in the long run, since the leading firms are moving targets. Furthermore, when a late mover’s technology level is low, the late mover should focus on imitation and build technological capabilities and absorptive capacity; then, as the technological gap decreases, the late mover should allocate more R&D resources to innovation and attempt technological leapfrogging. This transition from imitation to innovation plays a critical role in catch-up. We also test our models including a range of technological environment variables such as appropriability, cumulativeness, and technological opportunity. Our model shows that our original findings are resilient across a wide range of technological environment variables.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

Keywords: imitation, innovation, technological catch-up, technological leadership change, technological environment

JEL Classification: O31, O32

[Link to the paper on SSRN]

 

Author: sungyongchang

Hi! I am Sungyong Chang, an assistant professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School. My research interests lie in the area of creativity & innovation, and computational social science. You can also find my working papers in my CV, and on my SSRN page and Google Scholar. I graduated from Columbia Business School in May 2018 and earned BA in Business and Economics as a valedictorian from Seoul National University. I like to read science fiction & mystery novels, play board games, room-escape games, and travel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s