Peek Inside

  • Can Our Universities Be Disrupted?
    Christensen’s theory of disruption shows how new innovations take root at the low end of the spectrum for consumers whose needs aren’t being met by existing markets…
  • The Higher Education Crisis
    Given their combined expertise in the study of business innovation and working within the university setting, Christensen and Eyring set out to write “The Innovative University” to share some ideas about what innovation could make possible in higher education…
  • The Threats to Traditional Universities
    Christensen and Eyring contend that traditional universities are an indispensable cornerstone of society and culture. The college experience is transformative for so many people, and it’s an experience people cannot get elsewhere…
  • The Promise of Online Learning
    “The Innovative University” shows how online technology makes a college or university vastly more attractive to a wide subset of students. It gives many people a second chance at learning…
  • Making College Economically Viable
    Universities must make strategic choices about what traditions are sustainable and what are not. These choices run the gamut from embracing online and distance learning, to a myriad operational and mission-related decisions…
  • University DNA
    The stories of the development, evolution and continuing innovation of Harvard and BYU-Idaho in “The Innovative University” show that universities can prosper if they are very thoughtful about what they choose to do…

Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring, building on Christensen’s contribution to business, health care and K-12 education, apply Christensen’s model of disruptive innovation to higher education.

Unlike the many doom-and-gloom books of recent years, this work offers a hopeful analysis of the university and its traditions and how it must find new models for the future.

“The Innovative University” builds upon the theory of “disruptive innovation” and applies it to the world of higher education. The concept, originally introduced by Christensen in his best-selling book “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” holds that sustaining institutions or models exist until change “disrupts” the traditional or “sustaining” model. In the case of higher education, the disruptor to the traditional university might be a recession, the rise of for-profit schools or the prevalence of high-quality online programs. The authors suggest that to avoid the pitfalls of disruption and turn the scenario into a positive and productive one, universities must change their institutional “DNA.”

Through an intriguing examination of the histories and current transformations of the authors’ two very different university homes –Harvard and BYU-Idaho– and through other stories of innovation in higher education, Eyring and Christensen decipher how universities can find innovative, less costly ways of performing their valuable functions and save themselves from decline. They explain the strategic choices and alternatives for traditional universities to consider. As higher education communities face serious operating problems such as fluctuations in enrollment, over expansion of campus capacity and non-academic activities, and battles between local boosters and governing boards, this book offers insights into changes necessary to ensure the economic vitality of the traditional university. It uncovers how the university can survive by breaking with tradition and building upon what it’s done best.


The Authors Speak

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  • “This superbly documented book is a must read for anyone who cares about American universities and colleges and the invaluable role they play in our contemporary society. Henry Eyring and Clayton Christensen remind us of higher education’s history and thoughtfully examine the critical strands of its DNA that require ‘re-engineering’ to ensure survival and good Continue

    Molly Corbett Broad, President, American Council on Education
  • “The Innovative University offers fascinating new perspectives on very old questions. What defines a university’s identity? Are all universities cloned from the same ancestral stock? Are there still opportunities for diversity in American higher education, or is a single ideal to be approximated with greater or lesser fidelity? These questions resonate through the book’s narrative histories Continue

    Harry Lewis, Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University