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Economics: An A-Z Guide by Matthew Bishop

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C

Cannibalise

Eating people is wrong. Eating your own business may not be. FIRMS used to be reluctant to launch new products and SERVICES that competed with what they were already doing, as the new thing would eat into (cannibalise) their existing business. In today’s innovative, technology-intensive economy, however, a willingness to cannibalise is more often seen as a good thing. This is because INNOVATION often takes the form of what economists call creative destruction (see SCHUMPETER), in which a superior new product destroys the market for existing products. In this environment, the best course of action for successful firms that want to avoid losing their market to a rival with an innovation may be to carry out the creative destruction ...

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