Summary of The Innovative University

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Great change is affecting the US higher education industry, whose costs have risen faster than inflation. Clayton M. Christensen, the prophet of “disruptive innovation,” and Henry J. Eyring, a Brigham Young University-Idaho administrator, review the history and “DNA” of two disparate institutions – Harvard and BYU-Idaho – and draw some generalized lessons about educational innovation. The book is by nature episodic, if not disjointed: Here’s what prestigious Harvard does, and why and how it grew. Here’s what BYU-Idaho does, and why and how it grew, based on its Mormon roots and its academic focus, including its willingness to jettison team sports as a distraction. And here are the lessons both colleges demonstrate. These two institutions are very different, but they and their diverse public and private peers face common challenges. While the emphasis on history is heavy at times, getAbstract recommends this detailed study about where education is going to Christensen fans, and to educators and college administrators interested in innovation and confronted with the need to manage change.

About the Authors

Clayton M. Christensen founded Innosight Institute and wrote The Innovator’s Dilemma and many other works. Henry J. Eyring, a businessman and BYU-Idaho administrator, wrote Major Decisions: Taking Charge of Your College Education and Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Ewing, which is about his grandfather.



American Higher Education

Many of the world’s best universities are in the United States, but several poor practices undermine American higher education. Completing a four-year degree can take students up to five or six years. As students progress, they accumulate massive debt but they have no guarantee of getting a job upon graduation. Tuition fees and the costs of education are rising, but professors are underpaid while schools spend money trying to attract the best “student-customers.”

The public is losing faith in American colleges and blaming faculty members and everyone else, but traditional universities’ problems often are the same as those affecting other mature enterprises operating in established markets. Any large, settled organization with a history of achievement will have difficulties changing longstanding, functional strategies, regardless of how necessary change is or how good their new ideas are. Colleges develop an “institutional DNA” that determines how they operate, respond to changes in the marketplace and innovate – if they can. Multiple factors shape institutional DNA, including the intent of the school’s founders, shifts in the educational environment...

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