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Institutional theory contends firms imitate other firms with ideal traits, whereas the strategic groups literature on imitation suggests firms imitate similar firms. We address this debate by studying 1067 market entries by founder managed start-ups in the US Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) industry from 1996-2004. In support of the strategic groups literature, start-ups imitate entry decisions of and gravitate toward markets that are densely populated by other start-ups. Whiledoi:10.1111/jsbm.12055 fatcat:h6odqmvcgzejbalzerxvskhk5e