In the fall of 1990, we began a decade-long investigation into the causes of market dominance, paying special attention to the impact of entry timing on long-term leadership. In particular, we sought a deeper understanding of the importance of pioneering or first-mover advantages. Also we wanted to understand if it was even possible for late entrants to succeed, and, if so, how exactly they could do it.
What we’ve discovered over the last 10 years has surprised and amazed us. Some of our initial findings have been published in academic journals and have already begun to be cited in textbooks and some media reports. However, the majority of media reports about pioneers and later entrants make claims that are diametrically opposed to what we have discovered.
We began our study with in-depth research in a limited number of markets. Over the years, we continually increased the number of markets, until now our findings and conclusions are based on in-depth research in 66 different markets and several hundred firms in these markets. We examined each firm’s actions over many years and found the impact of these actions on each firm’s performance.
Now, for the first time we have compiled in this book all of our research on market dominance and long-term leadership. We include the preliminary results from our earlier academic papers as well as the results of our work on this topic over the past 6 years. Our recent work has focused primarily on expanding our investigation to a broader set of markets, including those in digital and high-technology markets. In the end, we have a high degree of confidence in our findings because our fundamental findings and conclusions have remained the same whether we consider markets like photographic film, which started in the nineteenth century, or those like online stock trading, which began just recently.
We strongly believe that an understanding of these enduring business priciples is vital reading for CEOs, entrepreneurs, financial analysts, business school students, and aspiring managers everywhere. In addition, we have been pleased that much broader audiences have enjoyed learning about the long-forgotten details and surprising twists and turns of the business histories we document. After all, these stories of enduring success are used to illustrate important business principles, but they are also the stories of business heroes who overcame great challenges to achieve great success.