Editor’s note: Clayton Christensen, renowned professor at the Harvard Business School, died on January 23, 2020 at age 67.
Beginning with the 1997 publication of his groundbreaking book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, has emerged as the leading contemporary commentator on the sources and effects of technological innovation—and its impact on existing organizations and ways of doing business. His insight about “disruptive innovation”—once described as how two guys working in a garage frequently decimate great companies—has been linked to Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of “creative destruction” as a driving force in modern economies. It was said by Steve Jobs to have “deeply influenced” him in his successful effort to turn around Apple Computer. In recent years, Professor Christensen has extended his analysis to include not-for-profit organizations, including those involved in health care and higher education. In the 2011 William E. Simon Lecture on Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, Christensen reflected on the ways in which disruptive innovation affects that portion of the economy outside the for-profit sector.
In addition to The Innovator’s Dilemma, which received the Global Business Book Award for the Best Business Book of the Year, Professor Christensen is also the author of the 2008 book on education, Disrupting Class, and the 2009 book on health care, The Innovator’s Prescription. He is a four-time recipient of the McKinsey Award for the year’s best article in the Harvard Business Review and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010. In 2008, he funded the Innosight Institute, to examine and apply his ideas to the social sector.