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Entrepreneurs in post-sanctions Iran: Innovation or imitation under conditions of perceived environmental uncertainty?


We examined the relationships between perceived environmental uncertainty and firm strategies (innovation vs. imitation) with a sample of 143 Iranian entrepreneurs. By using longitudinal data, we hypothesized that perceived environmental state uncertainty increases the possibility of pursuing innovative strategies and that the perceived effect and response of uncertainty increases the possibility of pursuing imitative strategies by Iranian entrepreneurs during the post-sanction period. Our results extend previous research by not only highlighting the importance of perceived environmental uncertainty in shaping firms’ strategic behavior, but also indicating how each dimension of perceived environmental uncertainty either enhances or inhibits the innovation/imitation strategy. Since perceived environmental uncertainty is a multidimensional and broad concept that usually stems from different sources, ignoring the exact types of uncertainty faced by entrepreneurs during strategy formulation could lead to unproductive investments and higher costs that may hurt firm performance in the long term. Our findings are in general consistent with the predictions of upper echelons theory and confirm that the strategy of a firm varies according to the types of uncertainty perceived by entrepreneurs.

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Appendix 1: Imitation strategy by Iranian firms

Appendix 1: Imitation strategy by Iranian firms

In the following image we can see an example for how some Iranian firms copied the most successful foreign products in the market.

figure a


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Afshar Jahanshahi, A., Brem, A. Entrepreneurs in post-sanctions Iran: Innovation or imitation under conditions of perceived environmental uncertainty?. Asia Pac J Manag 37, 531–551 (2020).

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  • Perceived environmental uncertainty
  • Imitation strategy
  • Innovation strategy
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Iran
  • Sanctions