Growing Criticism of Theory of 'Disruptive Innovation'

October 26, 2015

Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard University's business school, has since his 1997 book The Innovator's Dilemma been widely acclaimed in the business world for his theory of “disruptive innovation” to explain why upstarts derail established companies. A later book applying the ideas to higher education has led many administrators to feature Christensen at meetings and quote him to promote various ideas about change. But an article in The Boston Globe notes that his ideas are increasingly being questioned. A year ago, The New Yorker published a critique. But now an article in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan Management Review (summary available here) offers detailed academic criticism of the disruptive innovation theory. The article questions whether many of Christensen's examples actually prove what he says and cautions business leaders against relying on the theory. In another article in the Globe, Christensen explains why he thinks the theory is still valid.

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