The Follower's dilemma: Innovation and imitation in the professional services industry

Matthew Semadeni, Brian Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Firm decision makers contemplating imitation of a competitor's innovation face a dilemma: Imitate a new, unproven offering, or forgo imitation and perhaps miss out on the "next big thing"? Approaching this underexplored area of research, we apply information-based imitation theory to evaluate organization- and offering-level characteristics influencing imitation under conditions of high environmental uncertainty and high information asymmetry. In analyzing the service mark filings of the 50 largest management consulting firms over 11 years, we find that although an innovator's organization-level characteristics increase imitation, offering-level characteristics decrease imitation. Furthermore, organization- and offering-level characteristics interact, resulting in different imitation outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1175-1193
Number of pages19
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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