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Recommended Readings: Business Strategy

 

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.