An innovation is a type of competitive advantage (though not all competitive advantages are innovations) and the strategic job is to make that competitive advantage sustainable over time1, to maintain the advantage as a bulwark against competition. Mechanisms to deter or slow imitation are called, colloquially, moats.

Moats draw their power to prevent imitation from one of four basic sources:

  • The state,
  • Special know-how,
  • Scale, or
  • System rigidity.

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