Clayton Magleby Christensen (April 6, 1952 – January 23, 2020) was an American academic and business consultant who developed the theory of “disruptive innovation”, first introduced in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma, which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century, and which led The Economist to term him “the most influential management thinker of his time.” He served as the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School (HBS), and was also a leader and writer in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
Christensen was also a co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, a venture capital firm, and Innosight, a management consulting and investment firm specializing in innovation.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Clayton Christensen was born on April 6, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the second of eight children born to Robert M. Christensen (1926–1976) and his wife, Verda Mae Christensen (née Fuller; 1922–2004). He grew up in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City and attended West High School, where he was student body president. Christensen and his siblings were raised as members of the LDS Church. Christensen was an avid basketball player who stood 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) tall, and later became the starting center on the men’s basketball team during his time at the University of Oxford.
After graduating from high school in 1970, Christensen matriculated at Brigham Young University (BYU). While at BYU, he took a two-year leave of absence from 1971 to 1973 to serve as a volunteer full-time missionary for the LDS Church. He was assigned to serve in South Korea and became a fluent speaker of Korean. Christensen returned to BYU after completing his missionary service, and in 1975 graduated with an Honors B.A. summa cum laude in economics. Upon graduating, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and spent two years studying applied econometrics at Oxford, receiving an M.Phil. in 1977. Christensen then returned to the United States and studied at Harvard University’s Harvard Business School, receiving an MBA with high distinction in 1979.