Clayton Christensen, the Harvard professor of business administration who coined the phrase “disruptive innovation” passed away on Jan. 23 from complications of leukemia.
The world-renowned business thinker had a little known connection to Tooele County.
Christensen’s mother, Velda Mae Fuller Christensen, graduated from Brigham Young University in 1941. After graduating, she taught English and drama for two years in Summit School District and one year in Tooele, before she married Robert Christensen in 1949.
Tooele Transcript Bulletin’s publisher emeritus, Joel Dunn, met Clayton Christensen several years ago while on a trip to Boston.
Dunn said that Clayton Christensen told him that his mother made many friends during her one-year stay in Tooele County.
“He said when he was young he would accompany his mother on trips to Tooele to visit her friends,” Dunn said. “Tooele had a fond place in her and Clayton’s memories.”
Clayton Christensen was born in Salt Lake City in 1952. He was raised on the city’s west side in the Rose Park neighborhood.
Christensen earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in applied econometrics from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.
He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1979. He was awarded his DBA from the Harvard Business School in 1992, and became a faculty member there the same year. He went on to receive full professorship with tenure in 1998, according to the biography on his website.
Prior to his academic career, Clayton Christensen worked as a consultant in Boston.
His public service includes serving as a White House Fellow, where he served as an assistant to U.S. Transportation Secretaries Drew Lewis and Elizabeth Dole.
Christensen coined the phrase “disruptive innovation,” in his book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” published in 1997.