Emerging Research

Our research provides initial analyses on nascent innovations.

Sketch of Solar Panels

Why emerging research?

The saying is true: If there’s one thing that’s consistent in life, it’s change. In today’s rapidly evolving world, there are numerous innovations ripe with disruptive potential emerging across sectors.

That’s why, at the Christensen Institute, we have an open-door research vertical that allows us to investigate, open new streams of dialogue, and provide initial analysis on these emerging innovations (e.g., those in transportation, banking, AI, early education, etc.)

Of course, research is spurred by support. At the moment, most of the resources we receive center around education, health care, and global development—and for good reason. 

But, in applying the lens of theory, we also recognize the potential for impactful innovation rippling across other critical sectors and industries. We rely on community interest, industry investment, and philanthropic funding to open research in these additional arenas. 

Interested in what the theory has to say about an innovation, market, or field? Have suggestions on where we should focus next? Wondering how you can support our research? We’d love to hear from you over on our Connect page!

I work in the infrastructure finance industry, and using the theories to gain unparalleled insights into understanding the infrastructure-innovation equation, for me, has been deeply transformative. It’s provided me with a set of new lenses through which to see the world.
Chinua Azubike
It’s amazing how much the theories were able to guide someone from outside the industry to reach so many correct conclusions about issues we struggled with for years.
Auto Industry Senior Executive

Emerging Research Topics

Theory has identified these areas as currently having disruptive potential:

The challenge

From acquiring loans and small business financing to tapping investment services, incumbent players—traditional banks and wealth management firms—have been difficult to navigate for those not incredibly well-versed in financial markets and economics. 

Yet, in an increasingly volatile US economy, everyone—from student loan borrowers to small business owners to first-time investors—needs access to these critical services to secure financial stability and generate wealth.

What we’re finding

The increased prevalence of online solutions, such as non-bank lenders and robo-advisors, provide more access to a greater number of people through ease-of-use and affordability. Yet, their dependence on firm-controlled investment solutions and limitations around mortgage lending limit non-bank lenders’ and robo advisors’ ability to innovate, making disruption nearly impossible.

The challenge

This is a two-pronged challenge: First, with over one billion cars on the road and no evidence that this trend is on the decline, there’s growing concern about their environmental impact. Second, recent shifts in the US economy have left farms and long-haul trucking companies scrambling for operators and drivers; and ride-hailing services demanding more drivers, as well as increased security measures. 

Over the coming years, automakers are expected to invest at least $90 billion to electrify their lineups. This will help them stay ahead of regulation, but with the entire industry undergoing a shift, where are the most promising opportunities for growth, and what will it take to be competitive in the long run?

As for autonomous vehicles (AV), much of the analysis from industry experts has focused on various players’ technological advancements. But regardless of progress, the Disruptive Innovation Theory reveals that how AV technology is deployed is the greatest determinant of its commercial success. Get it right, and AV players have the chance to disrupt the industry. Get deployment wrong, AV will simply be a sustaining innovation.

What we’re finding

Low-speed electric vehicles (LSEVs) despite their  shortcomings—are hallmarks of disruption and, like all Disruptive Innovations, compete on new measures of performance such as simplicity, convenience, and affordability that appeal to those previously shut out of the high-end electric vehicle market. Meanwhile, AVs paired with ride-hailing apps have the potential to completely reimagine how people get from place to place. With the right strategic vision, AV companies can play a principal role in the advancement of the industry—and make a handsome profit in the process.

The challenge:

The apparel industry is in a high state of fluctuation: notable bankruptcies, shoppers suffering from financial turmoil and uncertainty, and millennials and Gen Z seeking experiences over products. Amidst the sea of challenges, participants in the value network—producers, facilitators, and managers across the globe, who together form the global apparel manufacturing supply chain—must discover how they can capture attention and profit . 

There’s certainly not a lack of innovation. In nearly every stage of the global apparel manufacturing supply chain, technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, augmented reality, and Internet of Things are dramatically impacting the way customers, factories, designers, and retailers respond to global retail demand. Yet none of these innovations have given anyone a decisive competitive edge.

What we’re finding:

Any business, regardless of its function in the global apparel manufacturing supply chain, can reclaim a competitive edge. In order to do so, organizations and companies must restructure their business models—and consequently their value networks—to integrate around customer centricity and become highly efficient in exceeding customer demands.

Recent Emerging Research Content

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