The aim of this study is to investigate the differential effects of pure and creative imitation on customer equity and the moderating roles of market contingency (i.e. competition intensity) and institutional contingency (i.e. enforcement inefficiency).
A lab experiment with 181 subjects and a survey of both senior and middle managers from 149 pharmaceutical firms in China were conducted.
Pure imitation decreases customer equity, but creative imitation increases it. Competition intensity attenuates the negative effect of pure imitation and the positive effect of creative imitation, whereas enforcement inefficiency only attenuates the negative effect of pure imitation.
The findings have significant implications for managers seeking to implement product imitation strategies in emerging economies. They can help managers understand the effects of two kinds of imitation strategies on customer equity. Furthermore, this shows that product imitation strategies should be aligned with various market and institutional contingencies to achieve better performance.
The authors distinguished between pure and creative imitation. Whereas previous studies have investigated the effects of pure and creative imitation on financial and market performance, the focus was on their differential effects on customer equity and the moderating roles of environmental contingencies at the market and institutional levels.
The authors acknowledge the financial support from National Natural Science Foundation Grant of China (71772058 and 71602056) and Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province in China (2018JJ3362 and 2015JJ3042).
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