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On the timing of innovation and imitation

Billette de Villemeur, Etienne and Ruble, Richard and Versaevel, Bruno (2015): On the timing of innovation and imitation.

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Abstract

When fixed costs of innovation and imitation differ, strategic competition between duopolists involves either preemption or attrition, the latter being likelier with high uncertainty. We show that industry value is maximized when firms neither stall nor hasten entry, whereas social welfare has local optima in both the attrition and preemption ranges. The social optimum implies a positive imitation cost, and with static business-stealing and sufficient discounting it involves preemption. Finally we endogenize entry barriers and discuss contracting, showing that firms are more likely to rely on secrecy and patents at low imitation costs and that simple licensing schemes are welfare improving.

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