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An assessment framework for disruptive innovation

C.C. Hang (Division of Engineering and Technology Management, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Jin Chen (School of Management, Zhejiang University, Zhejiang, China. Dan Yu is based at The Gallup Organization, Singapore)
Dan Yu (The Gallup Organization, Singapore)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




This paper aims to present an assessment framework which captures the essential characteristics and holistic success factors for disruptive innovation based on the original theory of Christensen, a number of clarifications as reported in the literature and a study of known, successful cases in the literature.


The framework was designed based on the improved understanding of disruptive innovation challenges and on the holistic consideration of innovation as a dynamic process. It consists of structured questions which could be used to guide detailed data collection and analysis needed to answer the key questions which constitute the assessment framework. They are grouped under market positioning, technology and other favourable drivers.


A simple yet comprehensive assessment framework for disruptive innovation has been developed. Two of the known successful cases, namely the steel minimill of Nucor and the 3.5 inch disk drive of Conner/Seagate, were presented in more detail to illustrate the use of this systematic framework in assessing the success potential of these cases of disruptive innovations in either the low‐end or new markets. A third and fairly new example, that of the limited mobile phone system/product of UTStarcom, was then presented to illustrate a case where the framework revealed reasons for potential failure. A fourth example of Google's web‐based office applications then illustrated how the framework might be used to study the disruptive potential of a new product.


This paper enables a more accurate and systematic assessment of disruptive innovation. The framework also has the potential to be further developed into a systematic tool for answering the question of whether the disruptive innovation theory could indeed be used to provide ex ante prediction of the success of a new disruptive innovation.



Hang, C.C., Chen, J. and Yu, D. (2011), "An assessment framework for disruptive innovation", Foresight, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 4-13.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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