MIT Sloan Management Review Article on To Disrupt or Not to Disrupt?

  • 11m
  • Joshua Gans
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • 2020

Disruption isn’t always the right strategy for startups. It’s a choice.

The term disrupt has become synonymous with being an ambitious startup of any type. There’s an almost cult-like devotion to the idea that becoming a disrupter is the best path to success — witness, for example, the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference. But most studies of disruption have focused on the disrupted — why businesses that are seemingly at the top of their game suddenly find themselves in distress. In short, industry leaders are vulnerable to disruption when they are stuck in their profitable business model, finding themselves unable to see or respond to the mismatch between what they are offering and what current or future customers actually want. In almost every instance, disruption is precipitated by a new technological opportunity.

But even if market leaders in an industry are hamstrung in exploiting those new opportunities, can we take for granted that others — notably, new entrepreneurial entrants — will be able to do so?

About the Author

Joshua Gans (@joshgans) is the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and serves as chief economist in the Creative Destruction Lab.

Learn more about MIT SMR.

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  • MIT Sloan Management Review Article on To Disrupt or Not to Disrupt?