IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/jomstd/v55y2018i7p1043-1078.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Disruptive Innovation: An Intellectual History and Directions for Future Research

Author

Listed:
  • Clayton M. Christensen
  • Rory McDonald
  • Elizabeth J. Altman
  • Jonathan E. Palmer

Abstract

The concept of disruptive innovation has gained considerable currency among practitioners despite widespread misunderstanding of its core principles. Similarly, foundational research on disruption has elicited frequent citation and vibrant debate in academic circles, but subsequent empirical research has rarely engaged with its key theoretical arguments. This inconsistent reception warrants a thoughtful evaluation of research on disruptive innovation within management and strategy. We trace the theory’s intellectual history, noting how its core principles have been clarified by anomaly‐seeking research. We also trace the theory’s evolution from a technology‐change framework—essentially descriptive and relatively limited in scope—to a more broadly explanatory causal theory of innovation and competitive response. This assessment reveals that our understanding of the phenomenon of disruption has changed as the theory has developed. To reinvigorate academic interest in disruptive innovation, we propose several underexplored topics—response strategies, performance trajectories, and innovation metrics—to guide future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Clayton M. Christensen & Rory McDonald & Elizabeth J. Altman & Jonathan E. Palmer, 2018. "Disruptive Innovation: An Intellectual History and Directions for Future Research," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(7), pages 1043-1078, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:55:y:2018:i:7:p:1043-1078
    DOI: 10.1111/joms.12349
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12349
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1111/joms.12349?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Raghu Garud & Arun Kumaraswamy, 1995. "Technological and organizational designs for realizing economies of substitution," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(S1), pages 93-109.
    2. Eric L. Chen & Riitta Katila & Rory McDonald & Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, 2010. "Life in the fast lane: Origins of competitive interaction in new vs. established markets," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(13), pages 1527-1547, December.
    3. Kristina McElheran, 2015. "Do Market Leaders Lead in Business Process Innovation? The Case(s) of E-business Adoption," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(6), pages 1197-1216, June.
    4. Matt Marx & Joshua S. Gans & David H. Hsu, 2014. "Dynamic Commercialization Strategies for Disruptive Technologies: Evidence from the Speech Recognition Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(12), pages 3103-3123, December.
    5. Elizabeth J. Altman & Frank Nagle & Michael L. Tushman, 2013. "Innovating Without Information Constraints: Organizations, Communities, and Innovation When Information Costs Approach Zero," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-043, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2014.
    6. Ashish Sood & Gerard J. Tellis, 2011. "Demystifying Disruption: A New Model for Understanding and Predicting Disruptive Technologies," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(2), pages 339-354, 03-04.
    7. Andrew A. King & Christopher L. Tucci, 2002. "Incumbent Entry into New Market Niches: The Role of Experience and Managerial Choice in the Creation of Dynamic Capabilities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(2), pages 171-186, February.
    8. Giada Di Stefano & Alfonso Gambardella & Gianmario Verona, 2012. "Technology Push and Demand Pull Perspectives in Innovation Studies: Current Findings and Future Research Directions," Post-Print hal-00696607, HAL.
    9. Burgelman, Robert A. & Grove, Andrew S., 2007. "Cross-Boundary Disruptors: Powerful Inter-Industry Entrepreneurial Change Agents," Research Papers 1978, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    10. Di Stefano, Giada & Gambardella, Alfonso & Verona, Gianmario, 2012. "Technology push and demand pull perspectives in innovation studies: Current findings and future research directions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1283-1295.
    11. Elizabeth J. Altman & Mary Tripsas, 2013. "Product to Platform Transitions: Organizational Identity Implications," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-045, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2014.
    12. Ron Adner & Daniel Snow, 2010. "Old technology responses to new technology threats: demand heterogeneity and technology retreats," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press and the Associazione ICC, vol. 19(5), pages 1655-1675, October.
    13. Dechow, Patricia M. & Sloan, Richard G., 1991. "Executive incentives and the horizon problem : An empirical investigation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 51-89, March.
    14. Bergek, Anna & Berggren, Christian & Magnusson, Thomas & Hobday, Michael, 2013. "Technological discontinuities and the challenge for incumbent firms: Destruction, disruption or creative accumulation?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 1210-1224.
    15. Clark G. Gilbert, 2006. "Change in the Presence of Residual Fit: Can Competing Frames Coexist?," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(1), pages 150-167, February.
    16. Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Underinvestment and Incompetence as Responses to Radical Innovation: Evidence from the Photolithographic Alignment Equipment Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 248-270, Summer.
    17. Ansari, Shahzad & Garud, Raghu, 2009. "Inter-generational transitions in socio-technical systems: The case of mobile communications," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 382-392, March.
    18. Chesbrough, Henry, 2002. "Graceful Exits and Missed Opportunities: Xerox's Management of its Technology Spin-off Organizations," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(4), pages 803-837, January.
    19. Andrei Hagiu & Julian Wright, 2015. "Marketplace or Reseller?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(1), pages 184-203, January.
    20. Robert A. Burgelman, 1991. "Intraorganizational Ecology of Strategy Making and Organizational Adaptation: Theory and Field Research," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(3), pages 239-262, August.
    21. Garud, Raghu & Munir, Kamal, 2008. "From transaction to transformation costs: The case of Polaroid's SX-70 camera," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 690-705, May.
    22. Nathan R. Furr & Daniel C. Snow, 2015. "Intergenerational Hybrids: Spillbacks, Spillforwards, and Adapting to Technology Discontinuities," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(2), pages 475-493, April.
    23. George Westerman & F. Warren McFarlan & Marco Iansiti, 2006. "Organization Design and Effectiveness over the Innovation Life Cycle," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(2), pages 230-238, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ansari, Shahzad (Shaz) & Krop, Pieter, 2012. "Incumbent performance in the face of a radical innovation: Towards a framework for incumbent challenger dynamics," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1357-1374.
    2. Arun Kumaraswamy & Raghu Garud & Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari, 2018. "Perspectives on Disruptive Innovations," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(7), pages 1025-1042, November.
    3. Nathan R. Furr & Daniel C. Snow, 2015. "Intergenerational Hybrids: Spillbacks, Spillforwards, and Adapting to Technology Discontinuities," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(2), pages 475-493, April.
    4. Tang Wang & Vikas A. Aggarwal & Brian Wu, 2020. "Capability interactions and adaptation to demand‐side change," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(9), pages 1595-1627, September.
    5. Pinar Ozcan & Douglas Hannah, 2020. "Social Origins of Great Strategies Advertising Suppliers to Realize Disruptive Social Media Technology," Strategy Science, INFORMS, vol. 5(3), pages 193-217, September.
    6. Li, Xu, 2024. "When firms may benefit from sticking with an old technology," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 120131, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Claussen, Jörg & Essling, Christian & Kretschmer, Tobias, 2015. "When less can be more – Setting technology levels in complementary goods markets," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 328-339.
    8. Alberto Galasso & Hong Luo, 2021. "Risk-Mitigating Technologies: The Case of Radiation Diagnostic Devices," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 67(5), pages 3022-3040, May.
    9. Pierre Barbaroux & Victor Santos Paulino, 2022. "Why do motives matter? A demand-based view of the dynamics of a complex products and systems (CoPS) industry," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 1175-1204, September.
    10. Di Stefano, Giada & Gambardella, Alfonso & Verona, Gianmario, 2012. "Technology push and demand pull perspectives in innovation studies: Current findings and future research directions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1283-1295.
    11. Brian Wu & Zhixi Wan & Daniel A. Levinthal, 2014. "Complementary assets as pipes and prisms: Innovation incentives and trajectory choices," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(9), pages 1257-1278, September.
    12. JP Eggers & Michal Grajek & Tobias Kretschmer, 2011. "Performance implications of core and complementary pre-entry experience: The role of consumer heterogeneity in mobile telephony," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-11-03 (R2), ESMT European School of Management and Technology, revised 29 May 2012.
    13. Frank Nagle & Florenta Teodoridis, 2020. "Jack of all trades and master of knowledge: The role of diversification in new distant knowledge integration," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 55-85, January.
    14. Dawid, Herbert & Keoula, Michel Y. & Kopel, Michael & Kort, Peter M., 2023. "Dynamic investment strategies and leadership in product innovation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 306(1), pages 431-447.
    15. Onufrey, Ksenia & Bergek, Anna, 2021. "Transformation in a mature industry: The role of business and innovation strategies," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 105(C).
    16. Jing Huang & Hongqi Wang & Jianlong Wu & Zhongji Yang & Xiaobo Hu & Mengmeng Bao, 2020. "Exploring the Key Driving Forces of the Sustainable Intergenerational Evolution of the Industrial Alliance Innovation Ecosystem: Evidence from a Case Study of China’s TDIA," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(4), pages 1-31, February.
    17. Ron Adner & Rahul Kapoor, 2016. "Innovation ecosystems and the pace of substitution: Re-examining technology S-curves," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(4), pages 625-648, April.
    18. Kraus, Sascha & Vonmetz, Katharina & Bullini Orlandi, Ludovico & Zardini, Alessandro & Rossignoli, Cecilia, 2023. "Digital entrepreneurship: The role of entrepreneurial orientation and digitalization for disruptive innovation," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    19. Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari & Raghu Garud & Arun Kumaraswamy, 2016. "The disruptor's dilemma: TiVo and the U.S. television ecosystem," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(9), pages 1829-1853, September.
    20. Richard Lynch, 2019. "Towards an Innovation Link between Dynamic Capabilities and Sustainability Strategy: Options for Emerging Market Companies," International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 16(04), pages 1-12, June.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:55:y:2018:i:7:p:1043-1078. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing or Christopher F. Baum (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-2380 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.