The theory of Disruptive Innovation has enjoyed a healthy level of debate over the years. This page features some of the critiques & responses.
The Economist 8/28/2015
In Mr Christensen’s theory, disruptive innovators are generally newcomers. But perhaps the most successful disrupter of recent years is an established firm—Apple—that has applied its mastery of technology and design to ever more areas.
Clayton Christensen, Michael Raynor, Rory McDonald 11/30/2015
Seen in this light, the claim that we have gone “too far” by observing that Uber has not followed a disruptive path to its current position risks missing our point. To say a company, like Apple, has achieved some its noteworthy successes without being a disruptive innovator is hardly to “ignore or belittle” the company. It is simply to note that companies can follow a path to success other than a disruptive one.
Jill Lepore 6/23/2014
Christensen’s sources are often dubious and his logic questionable. His single citation for his investigation of the “disruptive transition from mechanical to electronic motor controls,” in which he identifies the Allen-Bradley Company as triumphing over four rivals, is a book called “The Bradley Legacy,” an account published by a foundation established by the company’s founders. This is akin to calling an actor the greatest talent in a generation after interviewing his publicist. “Use theory to help guide data collection,” Christensen advises.
Michael Raynor 7/7/2014
Jill Lepore’s recently published argument against disruptive innovation theory is undermined by her failure to grasp three facts, according to Deloitte Services LLP director Michael Raynor.
Clark Gilbert 6/30/2014
I do not often weigh into academic debates (anymore), but there are certain arguments that should not go unchallenged. Jill Lepore’s recent piece on disruptive innovation in The New Yorker is one of those. The following is both a critique and a clarification of Lepore’s analysis.
Thomas Thurston 6/30/2014
Actually, no. The unpopular, debate-killing truth is opinion doesn’t matter. Whether or not Disruption Theory can predict the future isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. Here are the facts.
Andrew King and Baljir Baatartogtokh 9/15/2015
Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation has gripped the business consciousness like few other ideas. In a review of enduring business books, The Economist called the theory “one of the most influential modern business ideas.” Other commentators have noted that the theory is so widely accepted that its predictive power is rarely questioned.
Juan Pablo Vázquez Sampere 3/15/2016
For starters, King and Baatartogtokh argued that Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation has not been adequately tested in the academic literature. I would encourage the authors to revisit the literature, because to my count, there are more than 40 articles, including much of an entire issue in a leading academic journal (the Journal of Product Innovation Management in January 2006), that test and challenge disruption in many different ways. Furthermore, disruptive innovation is composed of more than four elements, yet the authors chose to test only four.
Martin J. Bienenstock 3/15/2016
When Christensen studied successful companies whose fortunes declined, he discovered one category of companies that failed or suffered diminished success when overtaken by companies that had initially offered inferior products appealing to customers who either could not afford the successful companies’ products or were the least profitable for the successful companies. More often than not, the market leaders were capable of offering the cheaper product. But, for seemingly valid business reasons, they declined to do so.
Ezra W. Zuckerman 3/15/2016
Let me back up. When we consider any management theory or framework, it is useful to start by asking a few basic questions: What question is the theory meant to address? Does the theory improve upon (as a complement or substitute for) other answers to the question it addresses? What ideas are at the core of the theory and what is peripheral? Let’s consider the theory of disruptive innovation through the lens of those three questions.