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The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail Hardcover – 1 Jul 1997

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; Underlining edition (1 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875845851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875845852
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.3 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

In The Innovator's Dilemma, author Clayton M Christensen shows what the Honda Supercub, Intel's 8088 processor, and hydraulic excavators have in common. They are all examples of disruptive technologies that helped to redefine the competitive landscape of their respective markets. These products did not come about as the result of successful companies carrying out sound business practices in established markets. Christensen shows how these and other products cut into the low end of the marketplace and eventually evolved to displace high-end competitors and their reigning technologies.

At the heart of The Innovator's Dilemma is how a successful company with established products keeps from being pushed aside by newer, cheaper products that will, over time, get better and become a serious threat. Christensen writes that even the best-managed companies, in spite of their attention to customers and continual investment in new technology, are susceptible to failure no matter what the industry, be it hard drives or consumer retailing. Succinct and clearly written, The Innovator's Dilemma is an important book that belongs on every manager's bookshelf. --Harry C Edwards


In essence, the dilemma Christensen as critical
today as it was 10 years ago.
-- Businessweek, June 15, 2007

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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When I began my search for an answer to the puzzle of why the best firms can fail, a friend offered some sage advice. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov. 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
To summarize the book is easy - it presents a simple and coherent view and model to explain why large companies must change tactics when confronted with new technologies. In essence a simple, clear and perhaps self-evident message: Large corporations must work differently in new markets, as opposed to improving the offering to it's existing market. It gives some ideas about why this is so: Internal funding goes to large projects than can afffect this or next years sales, initially small markets will not satisify a large company's need for short term growth, by definition new markets cannot be adequately researched and planned for etc. The big problem I have with the book is unfortunately the factual basis for most theories, Mr. Christensen uses the hard drive industry as prime example, because it happens to have the best data available. I find this similar to the story about the person looking for a lost key below a street light, and when asked how the key was lost answered "It was lost over there in the dark, but it is much easier to look here in the light". The successive generation of smaller and smaller hard drives seem too trivial an example industry for the general theory. Fortunately there are some less researched cases used as examples as well, and they do illustrate the points quite well. Personally I do agree with the author's conclusions - I just don't think that they are academically proven by using the hard disk industry as an example. Just to make it easy - why is it that Intel is still going strong in processors; it seems a pretty similar industry with at least as fast generation shifts? Finally the book is slight overweight for the rather lightweight message, but it is an easy read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
This recognised classic can be read in many ways.
In one sense, it makes a general point about the introduction of new technologies. It's certainly true that a new technology will often appeal to price- , convenience- or reliability- concious markets, before it performs well enough to enter mainstream applications. The Internet itself is an example of this kind of "disruptive" technology (cf Papow's
Yet the book does more than make this point. It also analyses the effects of the arrival of new technology in several very different markets, and looks at how incumbents and new entrants responded. As one reads these vivid stories, impeccably researched, one can picture marketing departments scrambling, and CEOs evaluating their stock options.
The narration of Honda's entry into the American motorbike market, familiar to any MBA student, is given an added twist, based on the perspectives of the people who did it. It is almost worth buying the book just for that story.
Where it doesn't succeed so well - though it makes a valiant attempt - is in suggesting how companies might respond to the threat of cross-over technologies. This area might be helpfully expanded in future editions.
Nevertheless, a must-read for anyone serious about modern business.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Coert Visser on 4 Feb. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a book is about successful, well-led companies -often market leaders- that carefully pay attention to what customers need and that invest heavily in new technologies, but still loose their market leadership suddenly. This can happen when disruptive technologies enter the stage. Most technologies improve the performance of existing products in relation to the criteria which existing customers have always used. These technologies are called sustaining technologies. Disruptive technologies do something different. They create an entirely new value proposition. They improve the performance of the product in relation to new performance criteria. Products which are based on disruptive technologies are often smaller, cheaper, simpler, and easier to use. However, the moment they are introduced, they can not at once compete against the traditional products and so they cannot directly reach a big market. Christensen researched how disruptive technologies have developed in the computer disk industry, an extremely rapid evolving industry. He identified six steps in the emergence of disruptive technologies:
1. Disruptive technologies often are invented in traditional large companies. Example: at Seagate Technology, the biggest producer of 5,25 disks, engineers in 1985 designed the first 3,5 disk.
2. The marketing department examines first reactions from important customers to the new technology. Then they notice that existing customers are not very interested and they conclude that not a lot of money can be made with the new product. Example: this is what happened at Seagate. The 3,5 disk's were put upon the shelf.
3. The company keeps on investing in the traditional technology.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keith Appleyard VINE VOICE on 13 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
Not quite as easy to read as I would have liked. Christensen describes some very interesting & plausible theories, but is somewhat confined into employing the computer disk industry as the rapidly changing example which both demonstrates & proves his theories, and its not necessarily the most exciting case material. Other products only get a minor look-in.
What I did like is how he covers the footnotes at the end of each Chapter - so if they don't interest you, you can skip over them, but if they do interest you, then you don't have to struggle to the back of the book. I wish more authors & publishers would use that technique.
One quibble - given his Economics background - of course there are plenty of graphs, and 99% of them are straight lines - there are no time dependent variances in his world.
Read this before you read the Innovators Solution.
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