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Disruptive Technologies: An Expanded View

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  • JAMES M. UTTERBACK

    ()
    (M.I.T. Sloan School of Management and M.I.T. School of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA)

  • HAPPY J. ACEE

    (Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems, Rockport, NY, USA)

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    Abstract

    The term "disruptive technology" as coined by Christensen (1997, The Innovator's Dilemma; How New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Harvard Business School Press) refers to a new technology having lower cost and performance measured by traditional criteria, but having higher ancillary performance. Christensen finds that disruptive technologies may enter and expand emerging market niches, improving with time and ultimately attacking established products in their traditional markets. This conception, while useful, is also limiting in several important ways.By emphasising only "attack from below" Christensen ignores other discontinuous patterns of change, which may be of equal or greater importance (Utterback, 1994, Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation. Harvard Business School Press; Acee, 2001, SM Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Further, the true importance of disruptive technology, even in Christensen's conception of it is not that it may displace established products. Rather, it is a powerful means for enlarging and broadening markets and providing new functionality.In Christensen's theory of disruptive technology, the establishment of a new market segment acts to channel the new product to the leading edge of the market or the early adopters. Once the innovation reaches the early to late majority of users it begins to compete with the established product in its traditional market. Here we present an alternative scenario in which a higher performing and higher priced innovation is introduced into the most demanding established market segments and later moves towards the mass market.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. in its journal International Journal of Innovation Management.

    Volume (Year): 09 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 01 ()
    Pages: 1-17

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    Handle: RePEc:wsi:ijimxx:v:09:y:2005:i:01:p:1-17

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    Related research

    Keywords: Disruptive; technology; Christensen; discontinuities; innovation;

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    Cited by:
    1. Brown, James E. & Hendry, Chris N. & Harborne, Paul, 2007. "An emerging market in fuel cells? Residential combined heat and power in four countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 2173-2186, April.
    2. Nicholas A. Ashford, 2010. "Environmental Regulation, Globalization, and Innovation: Integrating Industrial, Environmental, and Trade Policies," EKONOMIAZ, Gobierno Vasco / Eusko Jaurlaritza / Basque Government, vol. 75(04), pages 18-43.
    3. Nicholas A. Ashford & Ralph P. Hall, 2011. "The Importance of Regulation-Induced Innovation for Sustainable Development," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(1), pages 270-292, January.
    4. Guerzoni, Marco & Nuccio, Massimiliano, 2012. "Music consumption at the dawn of the music industry: the rise of a cultural fad," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201217, University of Turin.
    5. Sapsed, Jonathan & Grantham, Andrew & DeFillippi, Robert, 2007. "A bridge over troubled waters: Bridging organisations and entrepreneurial opportunities in emerging sectors," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 1314-1334, November.

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