Clayton Christensen
1952 – 2020

The architect of disruptive innovation, twice topped the Thinkers50 rankings, in 2013 and 2011. Inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame in 2019.


Inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame in 2019.


Ranked #3 in 2017.

Previous positions: #2 (2015), #1 (2013), and #1 (2011).


Recipient of the Thinkers50 2011 Innovation Award.


As the world’s foremost authority on innovation, Christensen is best known for his theory of disruptive innovation. His work explores how innovative approaches can lead to organizational transformation and create valuable new sources of growth. Christensen’s analysis of the ongoing failure of economic developments to generate sustainable growth – the prosperity paradox – shows how market-creating innovation holds the key to national prosperity.


Until his early passing in January 2020 Christensen was the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he was once a missionary in the Republic of Korea, a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and was named a White House Fellow. He is the founder of the Christensen Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think-tank dedicated to improving the world through disruptive innovation. He is also founder of strategy consultancy Innosight and Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm that pursues disruptive opportunities. Christensen was shortlisted (with co-authors Karen Dillon and Efosa Ojomo) for the Thinkers50 2019 Breakthrough Idea Award, for The Prosperity Paradox.
The Innovator’s Dilemma was featured on the Thinkers50 Management Classics Booklist in 2022.


The Prosperity Paradox (Harper Business, 2019); How Will You Measure Your Life (co-authored with James Allworth and Karen Dillon, HarperCollins, 2012); Competing Against Luck (HarperCollins, 2016); The Innovative University (Jossey-Bass, 2011), The Innovators’ DNA (with Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, HBR Press, 2011); The Innovator’s Prescription (with Jerome H. Grossman and Jason Hwang, McGraw-Hill, 2009); Disrupting Class (with Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson, McGraw-Hill, 2008); Seeing What’s Next (with Scott D. Anthony and Erik A. Roth, HBS Publishing, 2004); The Innovator’s Solution (with Michael E. Raynor, HBS Press, 2003); The Innovator’s Dilemma (HBR Press, 1997).


Media picks


“Clay Christensen’s influence on the business world has been phenomenal.“

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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