Clayton Christensen argues that theory of disruptive innovation could have solutions for colleges and universities

innovation-christensen-educationWhether or not you believe that higher education in its more traditional model is relevant for the students of tomorrow is moot, since higher education’s model (thanks to student loan debt, college and university debt, rising tuition costs, and a lousy economy) is currently in jeopardy.

A problem, explained Clayton Christensen, the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, that can potentially be solved by looking at his creation, the “disruptive innovation” theory.

In short (you can read a more detailed account here) the disruptive innovation theory “describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

See Christensen’s video explanation here:


According to Christensen’s keynote during a recent Colgate University’s Innovation + Disruption Symposium, disruptive innovation transforms something that was once complicated and expensive into something more affordable and accessible to a whole new population of consumers; and it’s this innovation that essentially kills the leaders in the middle.

Sound familiar?

That’s because while Christensen could be talking about the examples in industry throughout the last decade where this theory proves true (Ford vs. Toyota; Digital Equipment Corporation vs. Apple; integrated steel mill vs. mini mills), he came to Colgate to talk about what’s happening with higher education…and how by understanding why other big leaders in industry were once sacked by the little guys, colleges and universities today could be saved.

(Next page: Saving higher education)

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