Towards an Improved Theory of Disruptive Innovation: Evidence from the Personal and Mobile Computing Industries


This research studies the concept of disruptive innovation, its patterns, and the mechanisms that cause it. By using quantitative and qualitative evidence from the personal and mobile computing industries, this research serves to corroborate Clayton Christensen’s disruption theory, the main theory proposed today as an explanation of this phenomenon. It identifies the strengths and weakness of the theory, and builds upon it in order to propose an improved theory of disruption. In order to measure disruption in the personal and mobile computing industries this research collected data for 58 product lines, including personal computers and smartphones developed by companies in America, Europe, and Asia from 1974 to 2015. A correlation analysis validated the foundations of Christensen’s model, however it also revealed many unexpected results such as the importance of radical innovation and architectural innovation, and the possibility of self-disruption. Further qualitative historical analysis corroborated these results. The main finding of this research was identifying three different types of disruption and proposing an original categorization for them: 1) disruption by creation of a new market, 2) disruption by ‘mainstreamization’ of the market, and 3) disruption by commoditization of the market. This represents an improvement over the current theory. Finally, this research analyzed a phenomena previously not explained, and coined a new concept for it: ’anticipation of the technology life-cycle’, which describes the adoption of new technologies earlier than optimal in order to leapfrog competitors. This mechanism serves as a causal explanation of disruption, and complements the existing theory.

Author Information
Juan Sebastian Montoya, Doshisha University, Japan
Toshiro Kita, Doshisha University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACSS2017
Stream: Economics and Management

This paper is part of the ACSS2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon