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Australia: Corporate learning a growth industry

January 19, 2010 14:00 by Ann Pace

(From The Australian) -- One of the many neologisms coined by business strategy theorists is "co-opetition", a situation where businesses compete and co-operate in the marketplace.

Ungainly as the word is, it well describes the complex relationship between corporate universities - company-owned educational entities for optimising employee learning and knowledge - and more conventional public or private universities.

The first corporate universities date back at least to 1926, when the General Motors Institute (now the Kettering University) was established in the US. Following World War II, aided by a liberal legal definition of what constitutes a university, a steady stream of companies such as McDonald's, Disney and Motorola, founded corporate universities.

The heyday of corporate universities was reached in the 1980s, as global companies across the world competed to build prestigious in-house learning facilities. Perhaps the best known of these was General Electric's Crotonville campus. Here, after receiving a personal welcome note from feted chief executive Jack Welch, GE's managers and key customers would attend three-month residential courses presented by top academics and GE executives, including Welch.

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