Knowledge management and innovation strategy: The challenge for latecomers in emerging economies

Jiatao Li, Rajiv Krishnan Kozhikode

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


The success of latecomer firms from the emerging economies challenges the conventional wisdom on entry timing and resource-based competence. Building on research on institutions in emerging economies and the resource-based perspective in strategic management, we propose a model to explain how resource poor latecomer firms in emerging economies catch up with the multinational incumbents. We classify latecomers based on their strategic learning intent as either emulators or blind imitators. The strategic learning intent depends on a firm's complementary assets and its absorptive capacity. Firms that choose emulation develop flexible routines, while firms that choose blind imitation end up with rigid routines. Over time, when there is a need for resource renewal, firms that have flexible routines are better positioned to respond. We take the Chinese mobile phone industry as an exemplar to illustrate the core issues in latecomer catching up of emerging economy firms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-450
Number of pages22
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Absorptive capacity
  • Complementary assets
  • Emulation
  • Latecomer catching-up
  • Strategic intent
  • Strategic renewal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management


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