World’s Best B-School Professors: Clayton Christensen

by Andrea Carter on

Harvard’s Clay Christensen is a masterful, spell-binding teacher and one of the world’s great thought leaders

Clayton Christensen
Harvard Business School

Claim to Fame: Disruptive Innovation

Age: 59

Education:

Harvard Business School, DBA
Harvard Business School, MBA
Oxford University, MPhil
Brigham Young University, BA

At HBS Since: 1992

Before HBS: Chairman and president of CPS Technologies (CPS), a firm co-founded with several MIT professors in 1984, which was a leading developer of products and manufacturing processes using high-technology metals and ceramics.

Fun Fact: I speak fluent Korean

If I wasn’t teaching, my dream job would be: I’m already in it!

Best part of the job: Seeing my students go on to personal and professional success after graduation

Worst part of the job: Spending time away from my wife and five children

Over the past decade, the explosion of cell phone use has largely replaced the use of traditional landline phones. Professor Christensen specializes in the analysis of market invasions such as the mobile phone device. This market takeover exemplifies a key business concept he coined called disruptive innovation: the process by which a product or service takes root at the bottom of a market and then bulldozes its way ‘up market’ to displace pre-existing competitors.

Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, first laid the foundation for disruptive innovation in 1997. It then went on to become a New York Times bestseller. One of the most influential books on management practice and strategy, It has been sold in more than 25 countries and has been translated into different languages 10 times over.

Following the success of The Innovator’s Dilemma in the business sector, Christensen recently turned his attention to education and healthcare seeking to understand why schools struggle and how to fix America’s broken healthcare system.

As the originator of disruptive innovation, Professor Christensen is a sought after speaker, advisor, and board member. The real-world applications of his work are wide-ranging, extending from start-ups and Fortune 50 companies to national economies.

At Harvard, Professor Christensen serves as the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration, an appointment which cuts across the Technology & Operations Management and General Management faculty groups. Christensen holds four honorary doctorate degrees and an honorary professorship in Taiwan.

Students Say:

“It’s the only class I don’t need a coffee in.”

“The fact that I am here at 8:30 a.m. and awake the entire time says it all.”

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