Summary of Copycats

How Smart Companies Use Imitation to Gain a Strategic Edge

Harvard Business Review Press, more...

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Copycats book summary
Why imitation often proves less costly and more effective than innovation.


9 Overall

9 Applicability

9 Innovation

8 Style


Oded Shenkar, a professor who teaches global business management, offers a basic, far-reaching, somewhat surprising proposition: Imitation is faster, cheaper, easier to implement, less risky and more profitable than innovation – and you can imitate legally and profitably. Still, most firms kowtow to the mythical power of innovation, striving to invent the next big thing. What if all that struggle is a waste of resources? What if it makes more sense to spend your firm’s money, time and energy studying other companies’ goods, services and markets, and then selecting targets to imitate? What if you can use creative copying to achieve more profit for less effort? Shenkar lays out the benefits and pitfalls of this approach with clarity and only a soupçon of academic theorizing. Unlike most business authors, he saves the best for last, and the book’s final quarter offers revelatory reading and sound strategy. getAbstract recommends this book to those looking to maximize effort, insight and profit. Read this today, before some aggressive entrepreneur takes Shenkar’s lessons to heart and publishes a knockoff.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to gain from imitation
  • How to avoid the risks of imitation, including being imitated yourself
  • How to implement various imitation strategies
  • How to use the “10 rules of successful ‘imovation’.”


Ripe for Imitation
When professor Oded Shenkar offered a new high-tech tool to a potential investor, the underwriter asked if the tool had been market tested. “No,” Shenkar said, only to find that the investor promptly lost interest. “Our policy is to never be the first to try something...
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About the Author

Oded Shenkar holds the Ford Motor Company Chair in Global Business Management at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University.

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