First-mover advantages and innovation success: a contingency approach

Daniel Eduardo Chavez, Haipeng (Allan) Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to propose an overarching unifying theory where first-mover advantages are a conditional effect, not a main effect. By offering a closer look at how the firm, market and product characteristics influence the supply and demand of innovations, this research furthers our understanding of the advantages and disadvantages for first movers. Design/methodology/approach: This paper explores first-mover advantages as a conditional effect. Adopting a contingency perspective, the authors review the literature in marketing, strategic management, innovation and entrepreneurship to offer a conceptual framework putting innovation success at the core of first-mover advantages. The authors develop an inventory of propositions specifying how first-mover advantages depend on various firm features, market characteristics and product properties through their effects on the success of innovations. Findings: A conceptual framework centered around innovation success yields testable hypotheses that are coherent with extant research on first-mover advantages and reconcile the seemingly contradictory evidence in that body of work. Practical implications: This research provides managers with the opportunity to think about one of the most important decisions, i.e. time of entry, not as a linear finite decision, but instead as a flow with the innovations and potential for their success in mind. Originality/value: This paper distinguishes itself from the existing literature with its focus on innovation within a contingency perspective for first-mover advantages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1181
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business and Industrial Marketing
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 6 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr Haoying Sun from the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain at University of Kentucky and Dr Manjit Yadav from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University for their insights and comments on earlier versions of the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Contingency approach
  • First-mover advantage
  • Innovation
  • Pioneers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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