Can me‐too products prevail? Performance of new product development and sources of idea generation in
New products developed in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil are not only sold locally but also ‘exported’ globally, suggesting a changing landscape for global innovation. Existing literature in
technology learning and capability accumulation has long held the claim that, for a certain period of time in their development, firms in latecomer countries rely on their counterparts in developed countries to get new product ideas. However, existing research in this area is generally based
on case studies and historical analyses; there are few empirical studies exploring the performance consequence of learning from competitors abroad. Using large‐scale, nationwide survey data from China, we explore specifically whether learning about new product ideas
from leading firms in foreign countries will lead to higher performance outcomes than other sources (i.e. domestic competitors, customers, universities or internal departments) in an emerging market. Our findings suggest that Chinese firms that source new product ideas
from leading firms in foreign countries achieve overwhelmingly superior performance along financial, customer and technological dimensions. Implications to the managers and policy makers are also discussed.