Corporate University Gorenje Drives Organizational Change with Leading Academic Partners

Taking courses in programing from Apple University or interior design from IKEA College seem sensational study opportunities. However, they are hardly accessible for a wider public. Addressing this need, “FamousCompanyName” universities offer alternative educational paths to non-traditional learning communities who would like to up-skill themselves. These are not exactly HEIs in traditional sense, but more comprehensive training centers, designed by the parent companies to educate their personnel. In frequent collaboration with other educational institutions, or employing their own human resources, corporate universities drive change in their parent organizations, and unleash the company talent to foster the culture of innovation.

In line with the definition, Corporate University Gorenje is one example of strategic educational initiative in the innovation plan of The Gorenje Group, a large multinational white goods manufacturer from Slovenia.

The fall of former Yugoslavia market in 1991 forced Gorenje to reconsider their priorities and strategic positioning at the global stage. To restructure the company and effectively operate in the international business arena, Gorenje redefined their ad-hoc human resources development strategies towards a more systematic educational practice. Establishment of Gorenje Business School with its management training programmes laid the foundation for more comprehensive internal training practices. Growing into a full-fledged Corporate University Gorenje (CUG), the institution now serves as the center for management education, and organizational learning for innovation.

CUG in brief

CUG aims to create and transfer organizational knowledge, share best practices, and consolidate the common corporate identity. This is largely achieved by educational programs offered through a number of ‘academies’. The academies provide educational activities ranging from training in management and international marketing to developing staff leadership skills or digital competences. As one example, the Gorenje Create Academy provides training in innovation management for key professionals from all fields involved in new production creation process of Gorenje.

While the majority of the academies employ internal Gorenje trainers for their activities, the Gorenje Create Academy runs its organizational innovation programme in close collaboration with three world-leading universities of Delft University of Technology, Chalmers and the University of Ljubljana. The interaction with the universities helps the Create Academy provide a global perspective on business operations, and supplement the practical orientation of the programme with an additional theoretical angle. Likewise, the university partners benefit from their exposure to a different practical education methodology, real world organizational challenges and the diversity of their multidisciplinary Gorenje students.

Developed culture of learning as an outcome

CUG is a crucial component of Gorenje’s comprehensive development strategy. To illustrate, Gorenje invests around € 1million into CUG only for educational purposes annually. However, when the output of the initiatives are considered, does the investment justify itself?

In fact, the investment has generated considerable impact on both employees and the organization itself as a whole. Some of the more tangible returns include introduction of new products and services brought by the educational collaboration between the Create Academy and the universities, such as new technology Piroliza, solar cells, eco kitchen etc. The scope of the learning coverage is impressive: By 2015, over two-thirds of Gorenje employees were engaged in educational activities of CUG, which significantly promoted the culture towards further professional development and innovation among Gorenje staff.  This shows, among others, commitment of upper management and their willingness to support the development of the employees in all CUG initiatives is one of the important components of the organization’s success.


To learn more about the CUG academies, challenges and achievements, please access full case study here.


©all rights on images used in this article belong to the Gorenje Group


Meet the authors

Alexandra Zinovyeva
Alexandra Zinovyeva, a trainee at UIIN, is a recent graduate from Erasmus Mundus Master course in Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MaRIHE). She also holds a Bachelor of Education in Teaching Foreign Languages from East Kazakhstan State University. As a part of her bachelor and master courses, Alexandra has studied in The US, South Korea, Austria, Finland, China and Germany, and is a recipient of a number of national and international scholarships. Alexandra previously worked at private educational institutions in Kazakhstan and interned at Fulbright Commission in Finland. Her research interests revolve around topics of university entrepreneurship, university innovation management and interdisciplinary higher education.

Hacer Tercanli
Hacer Tercanli is a recent graduate of an Erasmus Mundus Masters course, Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MARIHE), and since November 2016 a Project Officer at UIIN. Previously she has worked in public and private higher education institutions in Turkey and completed a Fulbright Master’s program in Applied Linguistics in the US. As part of her Erasmus Mundus Master Hacer studied in Austria, Finland, China and Germany. During her studies she has participated in HE development projects that involved mapping digital learning environments in Germany and facilitation of internationalization in Turkey. In addition, Hacer has also been involved in EU projects at the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre in Munster, Germany. Among her recent interests are university-industry cooperation and quality assurance in international joint degree programs.