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The corporate university: global or local phenomenon?

Shaw, Susan R. (2005) The corporate university: global or local phenomenon? Journal of European industrial training, 29 (1). pp. 21-39. ISSN 1758-7425

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Abstract

Purpose – This article considers the extent to which a corporate university transcends national boundaries through an examination of the operation of Motorola University in China. The aim is to extend understanding of the role and function of a corporate university and the human resource management (HRM) convergence/divergence debate within an Asian-Pacific context. Design/methodology/approach – Documentary evidence and in-depth interviews were used to explore the role and operation of Motorola University China and to assess the impact of the Chinese context on the global Motorola University brand. Findings – Set up first and foremost to develop and grow young Chinese managers, Motorola University China now exhibits various features of a world-class corporate university as well as a strong corporate brand, thereby giving support to the convergence debate. At the same time there is evidence that China's economic, political and cultural context mediates the operation of Motorola University China. Research limitations/implications – This study was exploratory, based on a single case and, notwithstanding the problems associated with comparative research, further research is needed to determine the relative importance of different contextual variables and the precise nature of knowledge transfer between the corporate university headquarters and the host country operation and the role of the specialist function within it. Originality/value – The results provide tentative support for the proposition that corporate universities of global corporations can transcend national boundaries whilst at the same time being mediated by the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the host country.

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