When it Comes to Imitation… you want to be imperfect

apple-samsung

Research is most fun when outcomes are counterintuitive, right?

  • People rate a boring task as more interesting if they are paid…. more to take part or less to take part?
  • When a person screams in agony and eventually stops making a sound… people would continue to give electric shocks or stop to give electric shocks?

With the introduction sentence you probably guessed right. People rate a boring task as more interesting if they are paid less. And, yes, in Milgram’s study they found that 63% of people continue to give electric shocks to people when their superior told them so.

A  recent example of counterintuitive research outcomes  is presented by Hart E. Posen and others. They found that the efficacy of imitation (copying products/services of other companies) is enhanced or impeded by imperfections in imitation.  Answer: ENHANCED!

Perfect imitation leads to only moderate performance improvements. In cases of imperfect imitation average performance increases substantially.

Why would this be the case? Well, the researchers indicate that imperfect imitation “preserves useful and rare attributes that reside in low performing firms’ repertoires” – the combination of these attributes with the learning through imitating the superior firm can lead to leapfrogging the latter (Samsung is put forward as an example here as it was initiatively considered a copycat by its Japanese rivals).

So, good news for the sloppy copycats among us:-)

 

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