All we’ve done is copy Herb Kelleher’s successful model. In fact, we’re maybe the only people to copy it successfully and maybe take it beyond where Southwest has gone with it. But other than that it’s still Southwest’s model.
—Michael O’Leary, CEO, Ryanair Holdings
The nature and outcomes of imitation vary widely. Some firms copy a model as is, whereas others adapt it to their own circumstances or attempt to produce a marked improvement on the original. A few attempt to understand how a borrowed model will fit in, but others are content with replicating its most visible external feature.
Still, most firms remain focused on the barriers they can put in the way of would-be imitators of their own innovations rather than dwell ...