Corporate Universities

Sections of This Topic Include

Are Corporate Universities the Answer?
Various Perspectives on Corporate Universities

Also see
Related Library Topics

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to Corporate Universities

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Corporate Universities. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Career Management Blog
Library's Human Resources Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog
Library's Training and Development Blog


Are Corporate Universities the Answer?

© Copyright Jack Shaw

In any discussion of educating or training our young, we must talk about both education and training. We want our managers, and certainly our CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CTOs, and quite a few others to have impressive degrees and from impressive institutions of higher learning. The levels have changed over the years. A long time ago, a college-educated man was rare, and he could rise to the top of the corporate ladder. It mattered what school. Then it was ratcheted up a notch so the higher-ups had masters degrees, then MBAs, and then later they had to be from the prestigious business colleges a well--with the MBA.

The chief complaint: our institutions of higher learning were simply not putting out the graduates capable of going into a company and being ready to go to work. Hence, the development of the means of which to take those new employees and train them in the company or industry-specific areas.

That's not to say those requirements weren't needed as the world became a more complicated place. As business became more worldly, it took a sophistication requiring well-educated individuals who could operate in the broader context; however, business is still "nuts and bolt"s so it had to develop requirements separate from those at other levels where education wasn't enough to get you in the door; you needed special skills besides--and experience. As everyone focused on getting the education to get the degrees that opened doors, someone had to say, "who's going to do the work." Who is going to be the backbone of the company." Mr. Ivy League School? Mr. Premiere Business Institution? Mr. Prestigious Law School? And, to attack that glass ceiling, the ladies had to do the same and more.

Still, discussions in the community are centered around how to attract qualified workers to do the work-work. Can't find them here, some companies go overseas, where workers are cheaper and are willing to learn your business and will pay for the opportunity. Oops! You go where you can find qualified workers or you don't grow or succeed. Workers overseas don't often have the options of the right schools to get them in the door. Next best thing: corporate universities. Can we develop our home-grown workers? We'd like to. For the right price.

No one was saying forget higher education and concentrate on the practical, but it would have made the job of finding workers easier if someone could walk in off the street and immediately go to work. Granted there are some sharp individuals who can do that, but only in very remote instances.

Of course, if they could all walk off the campus and go to work, where would we trainers be?

Make it specific to the company's needs and ta-da!--a corporate university. Apparently they work. Look around any industrial area and you'll find institutions of higher training, better known as Corporate Universities.

So, now that we have education and are willing to take only a certain level of a job because we have that education, what now?

David Baucus and Melissa Baucus authored a piece, titled The Changing Shape of Corporate Universities. The gist of the article is how the e-learning and corporate universities we know today grew out of the technological innovation that came several years back. They say that there is no doubt that the e-learning industry--a part of that technological innovation--contributed to the growth of corporate universities. Both authors have the education to tell us this authoritatively. Check their website and bios to be sure.

"Early in the evolution of the industry, corporate universities represented a reasonable deployment of learning technologies. They enabled companies to deliver the right content to target markets (e.g., employees, partners, and customers) and to reduce training costs by substituting technology for labor."

Many years ago before the article above was written and when I was teaching at a small proprietary college in Virginia, I remember sitting on a committee looking at the direct education and placement of students in the workplace. The committee was made up of educators, trainers, business, corporate and community leaders all looking at what education could do in the world of work. The little guys can't afford to create a corporate university. No longer were we talking about the value of general education, but how we could mold future workers, managers, and leaders of the business and corporate world. Education alone wasn't the answer.

No longer were we talking about the value of general education, but how we could mold future workers, managers, and leaders of the business and corporate world. Education alone wasn't the answer.

The chief complaint: our institutions of higher learning were simply not putting out the graduates capable of going into a company and being ready to go to work. Hence, the development of the means of which to take those new employees and train them in the company or industry-specific areas.

Bring in the trainers and the technology. Make it specific to the company's needs and ta-da!--a corporate university. Of course, it's not that simple, but apparently they work. Look around any industrial area and you'll find institutions of higher training, better known as Corporate Universities. McDonald's Hamburger University, Motorola University, Boeing University, TD Bank University, Pfizer University, Trump Institute--to name a few. Some are well-established, and some are new to the scene. Look around your own neighborhood. Pretty much any large corporation will have one. In 1997, there were around 400 in existence in the U.S.; today that number in the thousands changes daily, and they are also worldwide. Like it or not, they will soon eclipse regular institutions of higher learning in number.

Technological innovation wasn't responsible for it alone. We grew up and we grew wide. We became international. We can communicate and operate around the world without leaving out desks. It's a good thing we can concentrate what we know about the company in one place; however, we should probably do it with an eye toward broadening our awareness of other companies and what they do and how they differ. Mergers are commonplace. Companies don't just change names; they change focus; they expand.

Training programs should expand or at least be expandable. (Trainers everywhere are rejoicing, and not just those who work for a corporate university.) There are joint university and corporate university projects in all areas of the business and corporate world. There are corporate universities within traditional universities. There are universities that exist only online. Not the correspondence schools or diploma mills of the past, but the basic idea of long distance learning--only bigger, and hopefully improved. As the educators mulled over the problems of putting graduates directly in the workplace, I suspect they weren't sitting on their hands either; this is bigger than business alone. It's our economy, our very lives at stake. Our GNP and the stability of our currency in the world economy. We are dominoes in this affecting economies internationally. If those dots are eyes, they need to be wide open.

Just my thoughts on corporate universities and the world. Broad topic. What are your thoughts? For more of my hopefully not-so-crazy thoughts, check out my website. I have more to say on training, on communication, on performance, and even on theatre arts, but I can only be in one place at one time.

Various Perspectives on Corporate Universities

It seems an increasing number of companies are forming their own "corporate training universities", often in collaboration with nearby traditional academic universities. The following links will get you to the largest collections of online information.
Corporate University Review (archives of this magazine)
Corporate Education Group e-mail newsletter
Corporate Universities Reinvent Training
The Rise of the Corporate Multiversity
Mission Accomplished? Measuring Success of Corporate Universities
Can Corporate Universities Play a Role in CSR? Should They?
Corporate Universities: What Works and What Doesn't
Creating Your Own Company University


Submit a link


For the Category of Training and Development:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

Basics and General Information

Orienting and Training Employees



Basics and General Information

Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to recruit, utilize and evaluate the best employees for your business. Includes guidelines to effectively lead yourself (as Board member or employee), other individuals, groups and organizations. Includes guidelines to avoid burnout -- a very common problem among employees of small businesses. Many materials in this Library's topic about staffing are adapted from this book.
Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to recruit, utilize and evaluate the best staff members for your nonprofit. Includes guidelines to effectively lead yourself (as Board member or staff member), other individuals, groups and organizations. Includes guidelines to avoid burnout -- a very common problem among nonprofit staff. Many materials in this Library's topic about staffing are adapted from this book.

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Orienting and Training Employees

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Also See

Career Development -- Recommended Books

Coaching -- Recommended Books

Human Resources -- Recommended Books

Career Development -- Recommended Books

Interpersonal Skills -- Recommended Books

Personal Development -- Recommended Books

Personal Productivity -- Recommended Books

Time and Stress Management -- Recommended Books




Find a Topic

Learn Consulting

Learn Strategic Planning


Free Management Library, © Copyright Authenticity Consulting, LLC ® ; All rights reserved
Website developed by NilesRiver.com         Graphics by Wylde Hare Creative
Provided by

Authenticity Consulting, LLC
Contact Info Privacy Policy Disclaimers