The Perils of the
Imitation Age by Bonabeau,
Eric. Harvard Business Review, Jun2004, pp. 45-54.
Imitation exerts enormous influence
over contemporary society. The influence of imitation has grown as
the avenues by which people imitate have multiplied. In consumer
purchases, financial markets, and corporate strategy, what others do
matters more to us than the facts. When there's too much
information, imitation becomes a convenient heuristic.
Imitation has its virtues, but it also
promotes instability and unpredictability. That's because, it can
swell a single opinion into a mass movement or catapult the smallest
player to the forefront of a market.
Businesses that understand how imitation
works can be better prepared by accounting for it in their forecasts
and risk-management plans, by becoming more sensitive to
unexpectedly changing circumstances, and by avoiding mindless
imitation of other companies' moves. In some instances, they may
even be able to use the tools of imitation to capture new business.