Reasons and Barriers to Further Training in High-Technology Companies. Evaluation of Corporate Universities

Bachelor Thesis, 2016

48 Pages, Grade: 1,3


List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 Principles of Further Training

2.1 Definition and Differentiation of Related Terms

2.2 The Necessity of Further Training in High-Technology Companies

3 Further Training in the Working Environment

3.1 Reasons for Company Training

3.2 Barriers to Further Training

3.3 Corporate Universities as Further Training Method

3.3.1 Definition and Classification

3.3.2 Implementation of the Concept of Corporate Universities

4 Interview Analysis

4.1 Methodology

4.2 Empirical Restrictions

4.3 Qualitative Content Analysis

4.3.1 Interview Situation

4.3.2 Institutional Perspective

4.3.3 Employee Perspective

5 Implementation Recommendation

List of References


Appendix A: Supra- and International Surveys on further training

Appendix B: Further Training Participation in Germany

Appendix C: Informal learning, Non-formal education, Formal education

Appendix D: Examples for Further Training

Appendix E: Further Training Terminology Intersections

Appendix F: Meister’s Corporate University

Appendix G: Different Forms of Qualitative Interviews

Appendix H: Exemplary Interview Guideline Extract

Appendix I: Mayring’s Interview Material Reduction

Appendix J: Mayring’s Qualitative Content Analysis

Appendix K: Own Content Analysis - Exemplary Process

1 Introduction


“Education is no longer an asset achieved in youth that remains of constant value during a long and stable employment career without interruptions” (Allmedinger, et al., 2011, 284). The problem of continuous acquisition of knowledge has been a key object of research in education and training policy in the Europe. Since the treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, the term “lifelong learning” (LLL) is directive in this context (European Communities, 2006). In particular, the way continuous education is embedded in the work-related life course has been repeatedly investigated and analyzed in different supra- and international surveys (Appendix A). According to the adult education survey (AES), participation in further training increased slightly during the last decade, indicating that in 2014, 59% of all German employees participated in further training (Appendix B), and 24% expressed the wish to participate (Kuwan & Seidel, 2013, 210-212). Increasing participation in activities associated with further training may have a positive impact not only on individuals but also on the social and economical development of the whole society (Cedefop, 2015, 5-8). Therefore, the question of how to increase participation in continuous vocational training arises.


Different sources predict that more and more companies will consider further training an investment in improved worker performance and economic productivity (Bunt-Kokhuis, 2009, 89). Especially against the background of demographic and technological developments, including labor and skill shortages, training the company’s human capital becomes significant. In this regard, the question of how to measure the sustainability of methods constitutes an area of research (Kauffeld, 2016). Here, the concept of “Corporate University” (CU) seems to be worth evaluating because it combines different training methods (Diesner, 2008). CU “interconnects personnel and corporate development and integrates learning process in corporate strategy” (Meister, 1998, 19). By conducting and analyzing qualitative interviews, the goal of this thesis is to examine whether CUs might be suitable for increasing further training participation. Moreover, reasons for and barriers to further training in a high-technology company shall be identified. Not least, the evaluated executives might be sensitized to improve their companies’ offer for further training.


To start, the various terms related to further training are considered, and definitions are outlined (section 2.1). The necessity of further training in high-tech companies is highlighted in section 2.2. Then, a closer look at motives that inhibit or promote further training participation follows (chapter 3.1 & 3.2). Subsequent sections (3.3.1 & 3.3.2) introduce CUs as one form of further training, and they determine different implementation concepts. This framework lays the foundation for the focus of this thesis, which is the qualitative interview analysis in chapter 4. Here, discrepancies and similarities between the respondents’ practical experience and the theoretical framework are examined. Moreover, the interaction or inconsistency in the statements of both perspectives are an object of research. In chapter 5, implementation recommendations for increasing participation in further training are summarized and accompanied by indications for possible adjustments of the CU concept. It is explained why increasing further training participation is only one part of the solution.


2 Principles of Further Training


2.1 Definition and Differentiation of Related Terms


During the last decade, international policy interest in further training has skyrocketed under the concept of LLL (Kuwan & Larsson, 2008). LLL includes “all learning activities undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences, within a[n] . . . employment-related perspective” (Commission of the European Communities, 2001, 9). Aiming for knowledge, skill or competency improvement, further training seems to be part of the concept of LLL (European Communities, 2006, 5; Gnahs, 2008, 31). In a similar context, literature uses the term adult education. Despite the similar meaning, adult education is only partially included in the framework of LLL as it includes only persons aged from 25 to 64 (Euroepan Comission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015). In particular, adult education can be defined as “acquiring or refreshing knowledge and skills in a new or particular field” (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization , 2008).


For the purpose of a clearer classification, the European Communities (2006) introduced a directive triad of terms, which is visualized in Appendix C. Here, informal learning, non-formal education, and formal education are differentiated. While informal learning is not institutionalized, non-formal education includes “any organised and sustained educational activity . . . that may take place both within and outside educational institutions and cater to persons of all ages” (European Communities, 2006, 13). In contrast to formal education, non-formal education does not lead to a degree certified by national framework of qualifications (NFQ) (European Communities, 2006). Literature criticizes this separation, despite the goal of providing clarification. It has been suggested that the threefold framework would be too standardized (Ioannidou & Seidel, 2008) and would therefore not reflect the diverse contexts of further training (Seiverth, 2008). In fact, further training might take place in all three segments (see Appendix D). Increasing research activity seems to have intensified the conflict of terms (Gnahs, 2008). As one might expect, this European terminology as well as the Anglophone terms of LLL and AE only partially correspond to the German understanding of further training (Gnahs, 2008, 30).


In Germany, research in further training started in the 1970s (Dausien & Schwendowius, 2009). Then, the German Education Council defined further training as the “continuation or resumption of organized learning after completion of a first educational phase”[1] (Deutscher Bildungsrat, 1970, 197). Moreover, the segments of training were divided into general (allgemeine), political (politische) and vocational (berufliche) further training. Bilger and Kuper (2013) as well as the German Institute for Adult Education (Das Deutsche Institut für Erwachsenenbildung, 2008) distinguish continuing vocational education and training (CVET) (berufliche Weiterbildung) from other sorts of further training. Both agree that continuing vocational further training activities promote professional competencies, particularly job-related concerns such as the (re)integration of the unemployed, the acquirement of new competencies for adapting to new areas of work, or individual courses for task-related improvements. Therefore, CVET itself can include different areas of training (Bundesministerium für Berufsbildung, 2007). According to Sauter (1989), three subdomains of CVET exist: company training (betriebliche Weiterbildung), individual further vocational training (individuelle berufliche Weiterbildung), and further training for the unemployed and employees threatened by unemployment. As this thesis relates to company training, the term can be defined as “a training measure or activity which has its primary objective, the acquisition of new competencies or the development and improvement of existing ones and which is financed at least partly by the enterprises for their persons employed . . . Random learning and initial vocational training are explicitly excluded” EUROSTAT (2006, 37). This definition includes three main characteristics. First, the main reason or motivation for participation needs to be job related or root in professional interest. Second, training should, at least in part, be financed by the firm. Third, the initiative or realization of the training should come from the company and only address stakeholders of the company. This terminology seems to be widely accepted in literature (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2012; Baethge & Dobischat, 1990; Behringer, Bilger, & Schönfeld, 2013; Gnahs, 2008, 37-38; Rosenbladt & Bilger, 2008, 70).


However, a clear differentiation from related terms appears difficult, as the concepts of initial training, general adult education, further education, and job-related training seem to overlap (Blass, 2005; Dausien & Schwendowius, 2009, 185). It seems that literature tends to use AE and LLL as synonyms for company further training in the same context. Appendix E visualizes the terminological intersections. For the purpose of this thesis, the terms “further training”, “vocational training” “occupational training” will be used interchangeably and related to the predefined term of company training.


2.2 The Necessity of Further Training in High-Technology Companies


As previously defined, company training should lead to an improvement in competencies or job-related skills. Two reasons for high-tech companies’ need of skill improvement are outlined below, involving the Information Era and demographical developments. Both structural changes lead to a synthesis of the relevance of further training.


First, current global economy is increasingly dependent on knowledge. The 21st century has created a global Information Era, which is shaped by disruptive innovations in our business environment (Bunt-Kokhuis, 2009). The principles of cost minimization and revenue maximization alone no longer guarantee enduring success. Instead, efficient and effective information processing has become key to competitive advantage (Rademakers, 2005). Especially IT companies are characterized by a high degree of work complexity. Changes occur at an accelerated pace, while technology and products have shorter lifecycles and need to be continually redeveloped (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, 2007). Moreover, companies are increasingly involved in international markets and have to adapt to culturally determined conditions (Abicht & Miritz, 2011). As a consequence, one decisive competitive factor is the experience and knowledge of employees (Sauter, Sauter, & Bender, 2004; Rademakers, 2005). Germany and other industrialized countries are driven by a knowledge-based economy. Especially IT companies need to adapt to a continuously changing and information-loaded environment, which also requires renewing and “updating” the knowledge base of their employees (Bunt-Kokhuis, 2009; Rademakers, 2005). Arnold and Pätzold (2009) conclude that technological, economical, and organizational developments cause professional qualifications to become obsolete very quickly. Employees are forced to replace outdated knowledge and continuously adapt to changing working conditions (Abicht & Miritz, 2011). The Information Era affects the work place in such a way that the need for routine work is reduced, instead increasing the demand for highly qualified people (Blossfeld, Maurice, & Schneider, 2011). By 2020, 20% more jobs will require “higher level skills” (European Commission, 2012, 2). However, the supply of highly qualified people is shrinking, as the next structural change will reveal.


Second, industrialized countries are facing demographic changes that will be accompanied by a decline in population and an aging society (Abicht & Miritz, 2011) (Meister, 2006): birth rates are declining and life spans extending (Allmedinger, et al., 2011). Thus, the middle-aged population (35–54 years) will dramatically decrease while the elderly population (55–64 years) will increase during the next decades (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, 2007). In the long run, a shrinking labor supply involves an unmet demand for skilled labor. This deficiency is particularly crucial for IT companies as the demand for skilled software developers continues to increase rapidly in the Information Era. Therefore, the efficient use of intellectual capital is increasingly becoming the key to business success (Sauter, Sauter, & Bender, 2004)


In consequence, education has become the key factor for economic growth and prosperity in our knowledge society (Blossfeld, Maurice, & Schneider, 2011; Meister, 2006). In order to cope with the aforementioned challenges, occupational training seems inevitable as the smaller work force needs to be educated and trained in the best possible way (Blossfeld, Maurice, & Schneider, 2011; Cedefop 2015). To put it in other words, members of modern information economies are obliged to acquire new knowledge and new competencies throughout their professional career. LLL becomes a key paradigm for high-tech companies in industrialized countries. Evidence suggests that “more and more companies will consider higher education as an investment in people to perform better and improve the economic productivity in a particular region” (Bunt-Kokhuis, 2009, 87). In summary, high-technology companies will need further training for their employees more than ever before.


3 Further Training in the Working Environment


3.1 Reasons for Company Training


After clarifying the theoretical framework and emphasizing the necessity of further training, the next logical step is to take a closer look at motives that inhibit or promote participation in vocational training. As a matter of fact, one important goal of national and international policy is to increase participation in further training (Kuwan & Seidel, 2013, 213). Several inter- and supranational surveys have researched reasons for further training in the working environment, which is visualized in Appendix A. Besides international policy makers, institutions might see a high importance in knowing more about reasons for and barriers to occupational training (Kuwan & Larsson, 2008, 58). Section 2.1 defines the main purpose of company training as acquiring and improving knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards work related tasks. However, a separation between employee and institution would seem useful to identify group-specific differences in participation motives (Sauter, Sauter, & Bender, 2004, 12).


At the level of the individual, literature reveals that a very common reason for participation in further training is the expectation of the improvement of job-related skills. Similarly, participants hope to increase their knowledge, which might positively influence their actions (Sauter, Sauter, & Bender, 2004). With the help of both skills and knowledge, participants see the possibility of performing better in their job (Bilger & Kuper, 2013). As a result, employees might hope that this performance increase improves their chances on the job, leading to fruitful career perspectives or higher positions in the company’s hierarchy. An additional expectation is that further training will lead to new challenges or tasks at work (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2012, 152; Behringer, Gnahs, & Schönfeld, 2013). Similarly, higher salaries (Behringer, Gnahs, & Schönfeld, 2013) and increased job security are expected, thanks to deeper job-specific knowledge (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2012, 151; Behringer, Gnahs, & Schönfeld, 2013, 196). Another motive for participation may be obligations or operational directives (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2015; Kuwan & Seidel, 2013, 229). Employees might participate due to instructions from their manager. Furthermore, some participants expect to achieve a certificate from further training, which they may use to advance their professional career, also in other companies (Behringer, Gnahs, & Schönfeld, 2013, 196). Validation in form of certificates opens possibilities for learners to use their acquired learning for personal career prospects (Cedefop, 2015). Apart from company-related reasons for participation, employees may also have more individual-centered motives. They may want to broaden their general knowledge and skills in job-unrelated topics that they find interesting. Here, the skill factor is augmented by the motive of interest and fun (Behringer, Gnahs, & Schönfeld, 2013, 196; Kuwan & Seidel, 2013, 228), so one might participate in order to socialize and network professionally or privately. With this in mind, individual-centered reasons might include the possibility of developing one’s character, including, for example, communication skills (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2012; Sauter, Sauter, & Bender, 2004). Participants could even expect higher satisfaction generally through the participation in further training (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2012, 152).


At an institutional level, the reasons for offering company training partly overlap with the individual motives described before. A first area of overlap and major reason concerns the expectation of increasing employee performance (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2012, 152; Behringer, Gnahs, & Schönfeld, 2013; Kuwan & Seidel, 2013). In particular, managers suggest further training to enhance the functional efficiency of the workforce (Autorengruppe Bildungs-berichterstattung, 2012; Götz, 2003, 39-56). Broader benefits can result from higher efficiency, such as cost savings or time savings, eventually leading to competitive advantages (Simmons, 2009). In this context, the term “return on training” is used. Occupational training can be seen as a form of investment because resources, such as money and time, are allocated in the expectation of some benefit in the future. In other words, managers tend to finance employee training in order to gain a profitable return (Dearden, Reed, & Reenen, 2000). Nevertheless, the measurement of this intangible return seems to leave room for research.


A second major reason institutions might see is the effective approach to the aforementioned economical and societal challenges (section 2.2). Some of the evidence suggests that further training fosters innovative strength, which represents a crucial driver in current knowledge society (Ballot, Fakhfakh, & Taymaz, 2006, 488). Besides innovation, vocational training also enables the adaptation of technical skills to changing workflows (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, 2012, 145). As previously mentioned, especially in high-technology companies the job requirements are constantly changing due to dynamics of high knowledge. Therefore, a company might hope for an augmentation of the knowledge base (Sauter, Sauter, & Bender, 2004). Moreover, in the context of immigration and skill shortage, company training can be used for the social and professional integration of foreigners. These training methods might include, for example, company-related language courses. In a similar way, further training can lead to an improved working climate or to staff commitment and satisfaction (Simmons, 2009). Additionally, further training can be a statutory duty in some industries. For example, companies in finance sectors are required to brief their employees about money laundering and compliance policies. Lastly, occupational training can be part of the corporate culture which shall create a stimulating working environment. It is worth mentioning that actual participation in further training depends on the initiative of institutions as well as individuals (Allmedinger, et al., 2011, 293). Structural dimensions of further training can reinforce the reasons for participation. Especially the degree of transparency and stability of learning opportunities (e.g., rules, learning conditions, expectations) influence the wish to participate in a positive way (Aschinger, et al., 2011).


3.2 Barriers to Further Training


Barriers represent the opposite of reasons, hindering employees’ participation in further training activities. In the literature, these obstacles are defined as “influencing factors reducing the probability of adults to participate in adult learning activities” (Kuwan & Larsson, 2008, 58). Again, the focus here is not on milieu-specific differences like qualification, background, or socio-demographic data. Rather, the following section deals with general barriers on an individual and institutional level, without considering their manifestation.


On an individual level, OECD has determined seven central dimensions of barriers to further education. These dimensions can be attributed to most of the items from national and international studies (Kuwan & Larsson, 2008, 59). The first dimension concerns a general attitude towards LLL, which can include, for instance, a lack of utility expectations (Kuwan & Seidel, 2013, 214-215). In this case, participants cannot imagine any benefit from occupational training. The second dimension concerns learning dispositions, which may include the fear of failure or a lack of self-confidence. In different surveys, employees report, for example, that they have had a bad experience—like exposure by other colleagues—in the past, which led to a lack of self-confidence. Third, and in a similar way, individual preferences for learning methods exist. These preferences can hinder participation in further training in that employees educate themselves in other ways, for example, informal education such as reading books or specialist journals.


The fourth barrier on an individual level concerns the personal life situation of the participant, which can include family life or health problems. For example, employees might not find time to participate due to family obligations or job-related appointments (Kuwan & Seidel, 2013). The fifth barrier regards the learning environment at work and in private. This aspect can include several individual barriers; participants of AES state, for example, that there would be no further trainings which match to their requirements (Kuwan & Seidel, 2013, 215). In other cases, there was no company support for the intention of vocational training participation. Other employees point out that there is simply no need of occupational training (Kuwan & Seidel, 2013). The penultimate barrier listed by OECD regards the institutional framework: the time schedule might intersect with required working hours, or the distance to the place of training might be a problem. Moreover, costs for employees might be too high which is emphasized, for example in the Adult Education Survey (Kuwan & Seidel 2013, 215). According to our definition of continuing company training, the company finances at least a large part of the training; therefore, we might suppose that costs arise as “opportunity costs.” Moreover, occupational stress might be high and leave no room for personal development. The seventh potential barrier concerns transparency, which includes the need for more information or consulting on LLL. Potential participants do not receive any information or simply do not know what their company offers. In this regard, a lack of communication seems to be a crucial factor in inhibiting participation. In some cases, consulting services would be needed in order to explain suitable options (Kuwan & Seidel, 2013, 215). Also, other sources cite clarity with all participants about expectations as an important criterion for successful further training (Sauter, Sauter, & Bender, 2004, 12).


At an institutional level, one omnipresent barrier is the cost of further training. As previously defined, the cost of training needs to be financed at least in large part by the institution organizing the further training (compare to section 2.1). Besides direct training costs, other costs such as training fees, material costs, and opportunity costs arise. The time an employees spend in training has to be subtracted from their regular work hours (Behringer, Gnahs, & Schönfeld, 2013). In regard of costs and profits, a bad economic situation of the company might prevent managers from offering further training opportunities to their employees. Companies might also have been unsuccessful with company training in the past and not be willing to start a new attempt again. Lastly, a “barrier” to further training could be that no training is needed. Training is offered if there is no need for it from an institutional perspective. For instance, the staff can be overqualified. Alternatively, employees might improve their qualifications through, for example, informal learning (compare to Appendix D). To summarize, decreasing the aforementioned barriers should be a central goal of companies in order to guarantee high participation in further training.


3.3 Corporate Universities as Further Training Method


3.3.1 Definition and Classification


The following sections introduce CUs as one form of further training. After explaining the origin and regional differences of CUs, an introduction to relevant definitions will follow. The second part (3.3.2) is concerned with concepts of implementation of CUs in practice. This framework will lay the foundation for the subsequent interview analysis.


Literature suggests that CUs were invented as a reaction to the structural changes discussed in section 2.2., particularly the globalization of markets, the shortened shelf life of knowledge, and the resulting necessity of LLL (Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002; Diesner, 2008). Despite the late theoretical base, the first CU was pioneered by Jack Welch in 1956 (Meister, 2006). In the United States, other large firms such as McDonald’s and Motorola followed in the 1980s, which led to a widespread introduction of the further training concept (Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002). For the most part, CUs represent a new type of further training, intertwining personnel with organizational development (Appendix F; Meister, 2001).


For various reasons, however, a universal concept of CUs does not exist; for instance, the conceptualization depends on the intention and location of a company. In the US, CUs intend to boost productivity and efficiency (Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002). In contrast, German CUs tend to have a higher focus on organization and strategy. In particular, they appear to support processes of change and the communication of corporate strategies (Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002). Another difference is that German CUs date back to 1990s and are therefore slightly younger than their United States’ predecessors. Evidence shows that CUs have grown over the last two decades (Abel & Li, 2012). It is likely that today there are more CUs than accredited for-profit and non-profit universities (Meister, 2006). At the same time, it is clear that the arrangement of CUs is diverse, given that every enterprise has its own concept (Diesner, 2008). Hence, it is also problematic to choose a single definition of the varying concept of CUs (Blass, 2005). Meister (1998) formulated a first literary definition as “a portal within a company through which all education takes place. It is an organization’s strategic hub for educating employees, customers and suppliers. Corporate universities link an organization’s strategies to the learning goals of its audience.” Later, Meister adjusted her definition and further emphasized the network aspect. She defined CUs as “innovative learning architectures that interconnect personal and corporate development while integrating learning processes into the corporate strategy” (Meister, 2001, 57). Both definitions clearly stress the strategic orientation and refer to a process rather than a static model. Meister (2006, 28) extended her definition a third time to include performance, productivity, and the competitive advantage: “Corporate university is a company-driven initiative that integrates personal, group and organization developmental processes in support of a strategic vision and enables the corporation to achieve competitive advantage through workforce performance and productivity” (see Appendix F). Another recent definition is provided by Rademakers (2005, 132), who states, “Corporate university engages in building and developing organizationally specific skills and is used as a vehicle to connect learning initiatives to organizational objectives and business performance.” Both Rademakers’s and Meister’s latest definition have the organizational and performance meaning in common, and they point out that CUs link their contents to the companies’ needs.


Even though these definitions are accepted in the corporate world, there is criticism from the side of traditional universities, who refuse to accept the term “corporate university.” They claim that CUs have a fixed profile and provide unilateral education (Kraemer & Klein, 2001, 5), and they criticize the lack of curricula with interdisciplinary character. At this point, it is worth mentioning that CUs initially did not intend to compete with traditional universities. Instead, their focus lay on company needs and the “natural progression of the CU itself” (Blass, 2005, 62). In support of this claim, CUs are not connected to scientific communities (Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002). CUs are meant to fill gaps in traditional training and address company-specific training needs. They embody a complementary concept of further training. From an optimistic perspective, this innovative occupational training concept might answer the question of how structural and ongoing knowledge-driven innovation is realized (Rademakers, 2005).


3.3.2 Implementation of the Concept of Corporate Universities


“Different companies require different corporate universities. Hence the ideal best university does not exist” (Rademakers, 2005, 135). As previously mentioned, every enterprise has its own conception of CUs. However, some similarities are notable. Kraemer and Klein (2001, 3-48) provide further information on literary classification concepts (e.g. Aubrey & Stauss) and are recommended as a review for more details. For a clearer structure, it makes sense to differentiate between four general implementation aspects of CUs: functions, organizational form, target groups, and contents of learning.


Functions appear manifold, depending on the evaluated literature. In a wider sense, CUs might enable a corporation to respond to the challenges of globalization and to align business goals with learning strategies. Yet, CUs’ main perspectives can be derived from the functions and are summarized under the following terms: spread of the corporate strategy, improvement of performance and thereby increasing competitiveness, promotion or encouragement of employee development, enhancement of corporate organization culture, change and knowledge management, fostering of the global network, and the integration of learning and development (Blass, 2005, 64; Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002, 31; Kraemer & Klein, 2001, 19). Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002, 31) evaluated the three most important functions of CUs and discovered that training (47%) was emphasized most before strategic change (41%) and corporate cultural change (12%). Meister (2006, 31) sets another focus and categorizes the four main functions as follows: learning transformation to drive business results, strategic alignment with business priorities, shared services infrastructure, and innovation in learning services and delivery. At this point, the list of different functions could be continued.


As one might expect, the goals of CUs are largely dependent on perspectives. Nevertheless, organizational form can be explained in a more stringent way. First, the organizational structure may be centralized or decentralized. When centralized, the CU is planned, conducted, and led solely by the human resources (HR) department (Diesner, 2008). On the other hand, a decentralized CU includes the involvement of different departments. Here, teams might be responsible for content and implementation while HR designs guidelines and frameworks. A middle way is demonstrated by a federal organization, which integrates different requirements into a holistic concept. According to Rademakers (2005), most companies center the organization of their CU around the HR department. However, the additional involvement of other departments tends to make CU concept broader, richer, but also more chaotic (Rademakers, 2005). A more detailed discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of specific structures can be found in Krämer and Klein (2001, 25-32). An additional organizational aspect is the legal structure, as CUs sometimes operate as their own entity. However, Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundeministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2002) suggests that most CUs are company integrated and do not have their own legal structure. In addition, the organizational form might also vary regarding the degree of virtualization. Kraemer and Klein (2001) claim that virtualization, for example, video conference systems, might help to overcome the obstacles of geographical distances but simultaneously impede communication and socializing. This leads to the next aspect: target groups.


Target groups also vary, and they depend on segmentation criteria with regard to the respective hierarchy level, the department, and other group segments such as new employees (Kraemer & Klein, 2001). Regarding all concepts of further training, employees need to demonstrate commitment, active involvement, and an understanding of the value of LLL (Kraemer & Klein, 2001) (section 3.1). Another factor, the contents of learning, can help increase commitment. A clear business-tailored curriculum is essential; it should address different levels and match the companies’ requirements. In particular, the content should include individual-centered competencies like methodical knowledge in technical adaptions. Here, a breadth of subject areas is advised in order to guarantee a multi-perspective view and future-oriented innovation potential (Kraemer & Klein, 2001).


Eventually, the concept of CUs can be assigned to non-formal education within the categorization system of European Communities (2006); see also Appendix C. First, it is clear that CUs are at least partly institutionalized, for example, through their clear structures and learning content. However, CUs do not lead to a certificate or degree that is acknowledged by a national framework of qualifications. Therefore, the concept of CUs can be assigned to non-formal education.


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Reasons and Barriers to Further Training in High-Technology Companies. Evaluation of Corporate Universities
University of Frankfurt (Main)
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Further Training, Weiterbildung, Corporate University, Company Training, FinTech, Lifelonglearning, LLL, Mayring, Content Analysis, Interview, Aus- und Weiterbildung, Qualitative Analyse, Leitfadengestütztes Interview
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Eva Maria Keiffenheim (Author), 2016, Reasons and Barriers to Further Training in High-Technology Companies. Evaluation of Corporate Universities, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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