Is disruptive innovation dead?

The notion of disruption lies at the heart of modern corporate strategy - but is the concept itself in need of the shock treatment, asks Andrew Saunders.

by Andrew Saunders

In the slick and stage-managed world of big-bucks business theory, AAA-rated schadenfreude is a commodity always in short supply. Yet earlier in the summer, students of management thought were rewarded with a big dollop of it, in the shape of a rare, public and highly entertaining stand-up scrap that forced one of the biggest names in the business to come out fighting for the legitimacy of a seminal idea.

When Jill Lepore - David Woods Kemper '41 professor of American history at Harvard University, no less - published a beautifully crafted takedown in The New Yorker entitled 'The disruption machine, what the gospel of innovation gets wrong', she was aiming at not only what is arguably the pre-eminent concept of modern corporate strategy - disruptive innovation - but also its highly esteemed author, Professor Clayton Christensen.

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