Inexpensive labor enables developing countries to reduce their technological backwardness by imitating products even if their initial level of technology is far behind.
—Hitoshi Tanaka, 2006
Jared Diamond writes that societies tend to imitate when they feel they are at a disadvantage but can afford to stay out of the fray where competition is lacking. Japan, for instance, was able to reject the crucial military technology of firearms several hundred years ago because it was then isolated from the rest of the world.1
No nation and no company enjoys that luxury now. Globalization means that no one is immune to competitive pressure and that firms that fail to either invent or adopt (and I argue, both) risk being left out ...