I was delighted that somebody with her standing would join me in trying to bring discipline and understanding around a very useful theory. I’ve been trying to do it for 20 years. And then in a stunning reversal, she starts instead to try to discredit Clay Christensen, in a really mean way. … I hope you can understand why I am mad that a woman of her stature could perform such a criminal act of dishonesty ….If, like me, you twinged when you read that---wondering whether he would have been less mad to have been taken down by a man---the answer seems to be yes.
Fifty-two years, Jill. Just so you understand, disruption doesn’t happen overnight.… So—Jill, tell me, what’s the truth? … Do they make rod and angle iron, Jill? No. Do they make structural steel I-beams and H-beams that you use to make the massive skyscrapers downtown, does U.S. Steel make those beams? Come on, Jill, tell me! No! …
[Interviewer] You keep referring to Lepore by her first name. Do you know her?
I’ve never met her in my life.Then why do you keep calling her by her first name, when the interviewer never used it?
The reliably conservative American Enterprise Institute dismisses the Lepore article as a leftist plot to preserve the higher education dinosaur, titling its takedown of Lepore "Why business guru Clayton Christensen has landed on the left's hit list," and complaining that she "picks at the the corporate case studies that Christensen uses." Which is, of course, exactly right, except for the belittling verb --- that is what scholars do to each other, point out when their data do not support their conclusions. And then the AEI writer says that all she is trying to do is protect her own cushy job.
Count Lepore as one of many college professors who doesn’t like the idea of online learning disrupting how brick-and-mortar universities operate — and how profs do their jobs.Which makes about as much sense as saying that the people who objected to Lysenkoism in Soviet Russia were just trying to preserve an archaic style of farming.
Paul Krugman takes Lepore's side, which I suppose just confirms the theory that this is a lefty plot. The AEI piece makes one interesting observation about the teaching mission of HBS, which I have no way to judge.
There is a big ongoing debate – Christensen on side, Michael Porter on the other — about how Harvard’s business school should deal with online education. Lepore’s piece can been seen as a mission in the campaign against Christensen approach.Seen by people other than Lepore, I imagine. But there may equally be something else at stake---what counts as research and scholarship at places like HBS. Christensen seems to insist that he is doing something like science, and his theory has become more nuanced and gained more explanatory force. As he says about the iPhone in a Harvard Magazine profile grandly titled Disruptive Genius, "First I was wrong, and then I was right." But of course the real test of a scientific theory is its predictive success, not its pliability to fit facts. Or the amount of money people will pay you to spout it.