Most previous studies focused on how the new entrants imitated or learned the new technologies and products from the incumbent firms to development, but paid little attention to the phenomenon that the incumbent firms could imitate and learn from the new entrants in turn. Through a longitudinal comparative case study, we illustrate how the incumbents use reactive knowledge search strategy (i.e., “innovator's imitation”) to maintain market leadership when encounter the impact of new products/technologies/models from new entrants. Furthermore, we reveal the motivation, process and internal mechanism of this strategy. This study divides the reactive knowledge search process into three stages: perception recognition, transformation application and deepening promotion, which gone through the dynamic learning process from local imitation to remote imitation and local reconfiguration, then to remote reconfiguration. This study provides practical implications for incumbents in China to avoid the “innovator's dilemma” in the current era of change and achieve sustainable competitive advantage.
$author.xingMing_EN. The Innovator's "Imitation"? Reactive Knowledge Search in Incumbents ——A Multi-case Study on Mechanism and Dynamic Evolution[J]. Studies in Science of Science, 2021, 39(4): 652-661.