Clayton Christensen, one of the most influential business management thought leaders of a generation, prolific author revered for his revolutionary theory of disruptive innovation, which influenced executives to change the way they conducted business, a devout Mormon and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Thursday, January 23 at the age of 67.
His family informed the media that Christensen passed away after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. He resided in Belmont, Massachusetts with his wife Christine, whom he married in 1976, and has three sons Matthew, Michael and Spencer, and two daughters Ann and Catherine.
Clayton Magleby Christensen came from a humble background. He was born on April 6, 1952, the second of eight children, in Salt Lake City. His father was a grocery manager of a department store and his mother was a high school English teacher. Family legend claims that Christensen read the entire World Book Encyclopedia in sixth grade.
He played high school and college basketball and served as a missionary in South Korea in the early 1970s. As an economics undergraduate at Brigham Young University—he turned down acceptance to Harvard and Yale in accordance with his mother’s wish and the result of his own meditations—and met his future wife, Christine Quinn, there. After he graduated from Brigham Young, Christensen became a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University and received an M.B.A. degree at Harvard Business School.
Christensen went to work for the top-tier management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group. He left management consulting for a post as a White House Fellow, serving as assistant to two U.S. Secretaries of Transportation. Christensen helped found Ceramics Process Systems, a maker of materials used in microelectronics. He then joined the faculty of his long-term home and love, Harvard Business School, in 1992.