Startups and the capitalists dilemma
In his ground-breaking theory, The Capitalists Dilemma, Clayton Christensen argues that the wider global economy incentivises companies to make sustaining innovations over disruptive innovations. Disruptive innovations change the dimensions of performance and drive wider economic benefits - the car created work for factory employees but also demanded infrastructure. Sustaining innovations drive marginal improvements within the current dimensions of performance - Tesla overcame incumbent automotives through a series of sustaining innovations.
Initially companies like Uber and AirBnb might seem hugely disruptive and to the taxi and hotel industries, they are. When viewed from Christensen's lens of wider economic impact they could be seen as detrimental. They are increasing the yield of existing infrastructure rather than building anything. At the same time they are removing employment stability from the wider market through contracting (Uber) or removing (AirBnb) the workforce required to run the incumbent industries (taxis and hotels).
A company whom I feel has turned the corner into being disruptive at a macro-level is Netflix. They began by aggregating existing content, however, starting with House of Cards they are producing an extraordinary amount of new content. By doing so they are fueling the careers of a new breed of writers, directors actors etc. Here's hoping some of their peers follow suit.
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