Manufacturing Popularity: An Ecological Model of Time-Based Competition

William P. Barnett, Mooweon Rhee, Elise Tak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many markets are characterized by the rapid coming and going of successive products, each lasting in the market for only a short period of time before it is replaced by another. Such markets confront firms with the strategic challenge of trying to enhance the success and longevity of their products. We develop a model to understand such time-based competition among products and how it is shaped by different organizational strategies. We estimate the model using data on Korean popular music. The results highlight the importance of social exposure to a transitory product’s chances of becoming and remaining popular. They also show that efforts by large organizations to manufacture popularity in that context have triggered a self-defeating dynamic. These efforts not only improve the competitiveness of songs trying to become popular but also increase competition from rival songs, thereby intensifying the brevity of success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-283
Number of pages17
JournalStrategy Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as an International Joint Research Grant by Yonsei Graduate School [to Rhee].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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