Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Global Competition and Learning Organizations: Goals and Motivations of Corporate Leaders and Employees Who Participate in Corporate/university Partnerships

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Global Competition and Learning Organizations: Goals and Motivations of Corporate Leaders and Employees Who Participate in Corporate/university Partnerships

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine executive and employee attitudes regarding benefits and difficulties accruing to employees and their corporations who participate in on-site MBA programs for 11 corporate partners. Because so many corporations embrace partnerships with colleges to advance the knowledge base of their employees, it seems reasonable to examine how corporate executives, chief learning officers and liaison officers to college programs and employee participants in an MBA program view the outcomes, benefits and difficulties that the partnership brings.

Two major questions guided this study: To what extent do corporate leaders and the employees participating in the On-Site MBA programs have similar goals and motivations? Are the expectations of the company executives aligned with those of the employees/students?

Executive responses were geared towards long-term goals. They responded that when employees are better educated, they become more valuable to the corporation. The executives did not focus their descriptions of an education on the MBA degree as much as the quality of thinking and teamwork such an education on the corporate site would develop among employees.

Graduates of the program expected to gain knowledge and use the MBA to attain higher positions. They also felt the company would benefit from and they would benefit from the additional knowledge and skills and networks they acquired. Current students stated that their expectations and goals were to gain skills, knowledge and promotions. Unlike the executives and graduates, their expectations reflected short- term goals.

Introduction

Due to increased competition and globalization, leaders of major corporations are placing more emphasis on education. Corporate collaborations with universities and colleges have become powerful businesses within the past 20 years (Dealtry, 2000). Local colleges deliver education on site, elite universities are forming alliances in the delivery of distance learning programs and non-traditional proprietary schools are expanding and seeking accreditation nationally (Clarke & Hermens, 2001). This paper reports the findings of a case study of a college in the northeast that provides on site MBA programs for 11 corporate partners. Although studies have been conducted regarding collaboration of corporations and education, the need for "Strategic education is seen by a growing number of organizations as a necessary major investment and prerequisite for sustaining and developing competitive advantage". (1)

Several companies have established positions of Chief Learning Officers (CLO) to be responsible for the education of the employees. The position of Chief Learning Officer has grown from only a few in the late 1990s to a few hundred currently (Caudron, 2003). Many fortune 500 companies have created these positions, but not all are committed to the theory of learning to improve the bottom line. Chief Learning Officers must continually prove themselves for the position to be secure. "In order to understand what results are necessary, successful Chief Learning Officers have learned how vitally important it is to replace the language of training with the language of business". (2)

Companies such as Goldman Sachs, Coca Cola and General Electric, among others, employ Chief Learning Officers. They are responsible for carrying out the organizational vision and developing procedures for aligning education programs with the culture of the organization. The goal of the leaders is for all of the employees to understand and carry out the mission of the organizations (Willets, 1996). Chief Learning Officers are the change agents for the companies. They design training and education programs for the employees of the organizations. They also provide training and education for suppliers and customers. According to Willet's research (1996) learning is not just structured training or education; it is constant and is the heart of the organization. …

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