What a Corporate University Is and Is Not

By Kathryn Tyler Apr 1, 2012

April Cover“There is a general lack of understanding of what a corporate university is,” says Mark Allen, Ph.D., a professor at Pepperdine University. “It is not a place, a building or a gimmick. A corporate university is an educational entity that is a strategic tool designed to assist its parent organization in achieving its mission by conducting activities that cultivate individual and organizational learning, knowledge, and wisdom.”

Here are differences between …

A corporate university and a training department. “A training department is tactical or operational, whereas a corporate university is positioned at a strategic level. A good training program helps you do your job better. A corporate university helps the organization achieve its mission,” Allen says.

A corporate university and a traditional university. Traditional universities conduct scientific research and grant degrees in a variety of disciplines. Corporate universities focus primarily—though not exclusively—on on-the-job skills, company-specific proprietary knowledge and branding, and certification. “At a corporate university, you are focusing on learning that will benefit the organization, not just the individual,” Allen says.

The author is a freelance writer and former HR generalist and trainer in Wixom, Mich.


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