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Copycats: How Smart Companies Use Imitation to Gain a Strategic Edge by Oded Shenkar

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6.

Imitation Strategies

Companies are not structured that way . . . there’s a whole process around innovation where there isn’t around imitation.

—Lionel Nowell, formerly of PepsiCo

Almost a half-century ago, Theodore Levitt commented on the need to develop imitation strategies. The pace of innovation had been accelerating, and he realized that this rate of growth increased the urgency to develop and deploy imitation strategies. Yet he found that even well-managed companies, which paid a great deal of attention to innovation, approached imitation in a way that was neither “a planned nor a careful process” but was rather “random, accidental, and reactive . . . an almost blind reaction to what others had done.” Not one of the firms had an imitation ...

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