Industrial Evolution and Disruptive Innovation: Theories, Evidence and Perspectives

  • Luigi OrsenigoEmail author


The notion of disruptive technologies has become in recent years a prominent concept in industrial dynamics and strategy. Yet, we still know too little about the frequency, intensity and modalities of this crucial phenomenon, let alone about the implications for strategy and policy making. There are indeed various meanings and interpretations of this concept, in the literature and in practice, but they often lack generality and in most instances theories rely on a quite narrow set of specific cases of particular firms, products and industries. This paper will not review the details of this debate. Rather, some more basic issues are discussed about the intensity and forms of disruptive innovation and the strategies and reactions of incumbents to the threats presented by new technologies. The paper presents and discusses the various meanings and forms of this concept as well as the conflicting evidence coming from different sources and methodologies in order to clarify its relevance and the differentiated ways in which it appears (or it doesn’t appear), thus providing very preliminary and basic indications for analysis and action. The paper concludes that in the aggregate and over time what we observe is a puzzling co‐existence and turbulence and stability in industrial dynamics, which appears to be driven by the complex interplay of differentiated processes of market selection and – above all – learning within firms. The specific characteristics of the relevant technologies, markets and firms are fundamental determinants of the patterns of competition and industrial change and they have to be considered carefully in the development of theories, strategies and policies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scuola Universitaria Superiore IUSSPaviaItaly

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