How History Shaped the Innovator’s Dilemma
33 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2020 Last revised: 24 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 14, 2020
In 1993, four years prior to the publication of Clayton Christensen’s highly influential book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, the Business History Review (BHR) published an article by Christensen titled “The Rigid Disk Drive Industry: A History of Commercial and Technological Turbulence.” The BHR piece relates the theory of disruptive innovation to Alfred D. Chandler’s work on large vertically integrated enterprises. It was published during a pivotal era of scholarship on innovation, management practice and industry evolution, much of which used the history of firms, industries and technologies to build theory. I survey the impact and critiques of Christensen’s research agenda highlighting how it illustrates where the boundaries associated with the “lessons of history” should be drawn.
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