disruption theory is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. Despite broad dissemination, the theory’s core concepts have been widely misunderstood and its basic tenets frequently misapplied. Furthermore, essential refinements in the theory over the past 20 years appear to have been overshadowed by the popularity of the initial formulation. As a result, the theory is sometimes criticized for shortcomings that have already been addressed.
And they are not pleased either with the way the expression itself is being used.
Too frequently, they use the term loosely to invoke the concept of innovation in support of whatever it is they wish to do. Many researchers, writers, and consultants use “disruptive innovation” to describe any situation in which an industry is shaken up and previously successful incumbents stumble. But that’s much too broad a usage.
executives with a good understanding of disruption theory tend to forget some of its subtler aspects when making strategic decisions.
They identify four points that get overlooked or misunderstood:
Disruption is a process.
Disrupters often build business models that are very different from those of incumbents.
Some disruptive innovations succeed; some don’t.
The mantra “Disrupt or be disrupted” can misguide us.
The latter part of the article reviews ways in which the authors’ thinking about disruptive innovation has evolved and it ends on a cautionary note:
Disruption theory does not, and never will, explain everything about innovation specifically or business success generally. Far too many other forces are in play, each of which will reward further study. Integrating them all into a comprehensive theory of business success is an ambitious goal, one we are unlikely to attain anytime soon.
The Nobel Prize citation highlights two distinct but connected contributions: Mr. Krugman’s development of the “new trade theory” and his work on the “new economic geography.” International trade has a long history in economics, and for the bulk of the field’s history, patterns of trade have been explained by factor endowments and comparative advantage. Why does England export wool and Portugal export wine? The cold winters of Yorkshire produce really fluffy sheep and the banks of the Douro produce splendid grapes.
Yet comparative advantage does little to explain much of modern international trade, especially not trade within industries. (Economix Blog)
In the  annual Times Higher-QS World University Rankings, McGill University placed 12th overall—the first time a Canadian university has cracked the top 15 to join Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale and others among the dozen best universities in the world. The school also ranked ahead of such prestigious US universities as Duke, Stanford, John Hopkins and Cornell. As with last year, Harvard topped the list, with Oxford, Cambridge and Yale tied for second.
McGill also had the distinction of being classed as the best public university on the continent. (McGill Reporter)
our three greatest living academic organizational theorists are, in my opinion, The University of Michigan’s Karl Weick, Stanford’s (now retired) James March, and Jeff Pfeffer. When I say “academic,” I mean scholars who have contributed important theories and published extensively in peer reviewed academic journals. If you look at the work of any organizational theorist who has ever lived, no one except for perhaps Nobel Prize Winner Herbert Simon exceeds the breadth and depth of Jeff’s contributions. (…)
What distinguishes Jeff from other star academic organizational theorists, however, is that he uses so much of this academic knowledge to influence what organizations and their managers actually do. Jeff isn’t as well known in managerial circles as Peter Drucker or Jim Collins. But I believe that his work should be as well-known because his ideas are so research-based and so practical. And unlike most star academics in his field, Jeff is deeply immersed in the stuff of organizational life. (source)
An author who has had a significant influence on my work (before he won the Nobel prize!) by confirming that the observation of everyday events is a good (though not necessarily “academic”) way to start.
Schelling is the master of ricochet scholarship. He studies a real-world problem and develops a conceptual model. He then takes that conceptual model back to a dozen real-world problems to see how it applies, and then ricochets back to refine the model. He keeps the process going until he is happy with his model, and satisfied with his insights into the problems that most interest him.
(…) None of us could approach his skill level, but all of us could learn from his example. If you are analyzing a policy, you should consider what your problem would look like in stripped down form. Look for an everyday analogue, and determine in what ways it is the same and how it is different. Go out in the real world to examine the information that participants have, the incentives that operate on them.
I have always been inspired by how he starts with real-world problems and, after all the back-and-forth, lets reality determine the validity of the model. Models are an attempt at understanding reality, an attempt -in some ways- at explaining reality. This is the premise for the idea that there is nothing more practical than a good theory.