Professor Profiles: Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School

Note: Professor Clayton Christensen passed away on January 23, 2020.

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Today, we focus on Clayton Christensen from Harvard Business School (HBS).

With research interests in the areas of technology management and innovation management, Clayton Christensen (MBA ’79, DBA ’92) joined the HBS faculty in 1992, after having cofounded CPS Technologies (where he was chairman and president) in 1984, working as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group (1979–1984), and serving as a White House Fellow (1982–1983). He is currently the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at HBS. Christensen designed HBS’s “Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise” course, an elective that shows students how to manage a successful company using theories of strategy and innovation to better understand which tools may be effective in various business situations. Students address such questions as “How can I beat powerful competitors?” and “How can we create and sustain a motivated group of employees?”

Christensen is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business (Harvard Business Review Press, 1997), The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth (Harvard Business School Press, 2003), Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns (McGraw-Hill, 2008), How Will You Measure Your Life? (HarperBusiness, 2012), and Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice (HarperBusiness, 2016). In 2007, Christensen and two of his co-authors founded the Christensen Institute (originally the Innosight Institute) based on their research. He still serves as chairman of the organization’s board of directors.

Christensen received an Extraordinary Teaching Award from the HBS Class of 2010 as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award. In both 2011 and 2013, Thinkers50, a ranking released every two years by the consulting group CrainerDearlove, named Christensen the World’s Most Influential Business Thinker, and in 2015, he received an Edison Achievement Award for his contributions to the field of innovation.

For more information on the defining characteristics of the MBA program at HBS or one of 16 other top business schools, please check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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