Disruptive innovation: An organizational strategy and a technological concept

Darryl Cressman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The question of what to make of disruptive innovation is complicated by the fact that it is used frequently and carelessly: it is simultaneously a cohesive management theory, an evocative metaphor, and an empty buzzword. Influenced by the work of conceptual historian Reinhart Koselleck, in this chapter I attempt to draw out a few of the shared commonalities that connect various iterations of disruptive innovation. Tracing the history of disruptive innovation from its formal theorization in management theory to its use as a metaphor to describe any manner of sociotechnical change, I identify two characteristics of disruptive innovation: first, an adherence to an organizational strategy that favours smaller start-ups; and second, a concept of technology that informs ideas about the history, pace, and trajectory of technological change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Alternative Theories of Innovation
EditorsBenoît Godin, Gérald Gaglio, Dominique Vinck
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781789902303, 9781789902297
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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