Welcome to The Capitalist's Dilemma research project! Since writing the 2014 Harvard Business Review article, The Capitalist’s Dilemma, Professor Clay Christensen has been eager to offer his perspective on this issue to a wider audience in the form of a book. Given the current economic climate, we at The Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School think the issues being addressed in this book are more exigent than ever.

The Capitalist’s Dilemma essentially examines what, in a time of capital superabundance, may be impeding companies’ efforts toward reinvestment in the kind of market-creating innovations that lead to economic and job growth? Given all the available capital, why does there seem to be a break in the cycle of reinvestment and how do we repair it?

The Forum is currently engaged in the active research phase of producing the book by collecting insights from our alumni and industry experts. This is where Clay could really use your help. We are eager to hear your stories of how you’ve encountered the Capitalist’s Dilemma at work. If you disagree with some of the aspects of the theory, we’d love to hear about that as well — as Clay often says, anomalies to theories are much more interesting and valuable than additional conforming examples.

After viewing Clay's Welcome video, please click on the list of 10 questions under Conversation Prompts and share your thoughts on them in the comments sections. Your valuable insights and opinions are essential to this book.

We sincerely thank you for your generous contribution on this topic and look forward to reading your take on what has become an urgent issue.

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Conversations on The Capitalist’s Dilemma

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The Capitalist’s Dilemma examines what, in a time of capital superabundance, is impeding companies from investing in the market creating innovations that lead to lasting economic growth? Given all the available capital, why is there a break in the cycle of reinvestment and how do we repair it? Considering the current economic climate, the issues addressed in this book are more exigent than ever.

Click on the following links to post your comments to the questions on the Capitalist’s Dilemma and join the conversation.

  1. Evaluate the argument of the “Capitalist’s Dilemma” article.
  2. Do we have a growth problem – economic, employment, or both?
  3. How much should companies focus on quarterly earnings vs. long-term growth?
  4. Should companies “care” about job growth?
  5. When is a company (or CEO) focusing on the long term?
  6. Is venture capital a good place to produce MCIs?
  7. Is it hard for companies to invest in market-creating innovations?
  8. Who rocks at market-creating innovation? 
  9. Will market-creating innovations continue to create jobs?
  10. What Makes it Hard for Some Companies to Come Up with Their Next Act?


Submitted (10)

6. Is Venture Capital a Good Place to Produce MCIs?
Last modified on March 23, 2017 at 5:08 pm
Why or why not? In some instances, VCs have been an important part of successful market-creating innovations. VCs largely funded many of today’s most innovative companies including Apple, Google, Cisco, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Amgen, and Genentech. The market-creating importance and [...]
4. Should Companies “Care” About Job Growth?
Last modified on March 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm
Do companies have a selfish or societal interest in creating jobs? While different governance systems in use around the world place radically different weight on the rights of shareholders as against employees and other stakeholders, very few business initiatives are [...]
5. When is a Company (or CEO) Focusing on The Long Term?
Last modified on April 18, 2017 at 11:38 am
Are there metrics that would reveal this perspective? A question analysts seldom ask, and that many CEOs would perhaps be unprepared to answer, is “What is the time horizon you are managing toward?” It would be interesting to compare the [...]
9. Will Market-Creating Innovations Continue Creating Jobs?
Last modified on October 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Please review this graph. One of the questions we’ve been exploring the most intensively is “Why do market-creating innovations create the most jobs?”, and we think we’ve come up with the answer.  This is a tangled subject area—a lot of [...]