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Perspectives on disruptive technology and innovation: Exploring conflicts, characteristics in emerging economies

Wan Liu (School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
Ren-huai Liu (Research Center of Strategic Management, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China)
Hui Chen (School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
Jet Mboga (Department of Management and International Business, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 24 March 2020

Issue publication date: 4 June 2020




Disruptive technology and innovation represent complex conflicts in nature. This paper aims to present an analytical review of the heterogeneity and conflicts that exist in the disruptive technology/innovation between the eastern and western countries using Chinese high-speed railways to illustrate disruptive innovation.


The emerging economy brings about other theoretical and practical conflicts. Qualitative analysis is conducted on Chinese high-speed railways to assess the validity of innovation characteristics using Professor Clayton M. Christensen’s theories of disruptive technology/innovation and conflict. The authors explore the conflicts that can accompany the introduction of disruptive technologies in the current platform and how appropriately this specific context can lessen these conflicts.


The study revealed that Christensen’s theories could be applied 100per cent to the Chinese context if the western disruptive innovation theory can meet the practical requirements of Chinese disruptive technology/innovation. Qualitative analysis showed that Chinese high-speed railways had experienced greater success with disruptive innovation mechanism. The authors conclude that while the Chinese market is critical in shaping the kind of innovations that are emerging there, many disruptive technologies/innovations in China have their roots in the low-end market and new market. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.


There exists a research gap in the literature on the Chinese context. Conflict of disruptive technology and innovation within China and the characteristics of the Chinese high-speed railway prompt further research for scholars and practitioners.



The authors are greatly grateful for the helpful advice and comments provided by Steven Si and two anonymous reviewers. The authors also wish to express their sincere gratitude to Di Song for his kind help for this manuscript.


Liu, W., Liu, R.-h., Chen, H. and Mboga, J. (2020), "Perspectives on disruptive technology and innovation: Exploring conflicts, characteristics in emerging economies", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 313-331.



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