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Disruptive innovation

This policy brief discusses the concept of dis­ruptive innovation in the sense introduced by Christensen’s seminal work ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ (1997). A disruptive innovation refers to one which radically alters practices in an industry or even wider values in a society. This is as opposed to an incremental innovation which would provide a less radical, more gradual change. Christensen’s framework has been widely discussed in management litera­ture, but not yet in terms of its implications for inno­vation policy design. This brief addresses this gap. It explores whether and how inno­vation policy should pay specific attention to disruptive innovation trends and, if so, how optimisations from policy intervention could be achieved. The brief applies the framework to analyse potentially disruptive trends in four industries: i) the chemical industry ii) the automotive industry iii) tourism iv) transport & logistics.

This policy brief was prepared by empirica GmbH, Bonn, with the support of the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln Consult GmbH, Salzburg Research GmbH and the Institute for Service Industry Research (IRAT) at the Italian National Research Council (CNR),


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