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Corporate universities

A corporate university is any educational entity that is a strategic tool designed to assist its parent organization in achieving its goals by conducting activities that foster individual and organizational learning and knowledge. Corporate universities (CU) are a growing trend in corporations. In 1993, corporate universities existed in only 400 companies. By 2001, this number had increased to 2,000, including Walt Disney, Boeing, and Motorola.

In most cases, corporate universities are not universities in the strict sense of the word. The traditional university is an educational institution which grants both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a variety of subjects, as well as conducting original scientific research. In contrast, a corporate university typically limits scope to providing job-specific, indeed company-specific, training for the managerial personnel of the parent corporation. Corporate universities are most commonly found in the United States, a nation which has no official legal definition of the term "university". Perhaps the best known corporate university is the Hamburger University operated by McDonald's Corporation in Chicago.

Corporate universities are set up for a variety of reasons, but most organizations have the same basic needs. These are to:

CUs offer valuable training and education to employees, but they also help organizations retain and promote key employees. Although a CU may sound attractive, there is a lot of work that goes into the planning and implementation of such a project.

Before planning a CU a corporation should conduct a full learning audit and assessment, a series of design workshops, the creation of a business case and recommendations to senior management, implementation, and finally, further recommendations and review. One of the most important goals is to ensure that the project has support from the CEO down.

There are ten steps to implementing and sustaining a successful corporate university. These steps are:

  • Bring a common culture, loyalty, and belonging to a company
  • Get the most out of the investment in education
  • Organize training
  • Remain competitive in today's economy
  • Retain employees
  • Start and support change in the organization
  • Renaud-Coulon, Annick (2008). Corporate Universities, a lever of Corporate Responsibility. GlobalCCU Publisher. ISBN . 
  • Paton, Rob; Geoff Peters; John Storey; Scott Taylor (2005). Handbook of Corporate University Development: Managing Strategic Learning Initiatives in Public and Private Domains. Gower Publishing, Ltd. ISBN . 


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