Liberal arts and corporate education: Perceptions of corporate and higher education representatives

Date of Completion

January 1989


Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Business|Education, Vocational




Rapid change precipitated by a shift from an industrial to an information society will require individuals to seek retraining frequently during a career and will necessitate a societal focus on lifelong education and retraining. Since investments in people will be necessary to accommodate the transition, corporate education and training will play a leading role in the new human learning system.^ However, the corporate education and training focus on applied skills is not totally adequate for our fast changing society. Generalists who can adapt to new ways will be required. The generalist breadth, currently missing in corporate education, can be found in the liberal arts programs of higher education.^ In this context, this study addressed the problem of integrating the philosophy and goals of a liberal education into corporate education programs. Specifically, the study asked key representatives of business and higher education in Connecticut to what extent the goals of a liberal education are currently provided by corporate education and to what extent these goals should be provided by the corporate sector. The study also evaluated the extent to which business perceptions change by company size or type regarding the integrating of liberal education goals into corporate education. Similarly, the research analyzed the change in perceptions by type of higher education institution. The overall effect of this study was analyzed by the stepwise regression statistical procedure.^ The findings indicated that overall the respondents felt a change of emphasis was called for in corporate education to include more liberal arts perspectives. The goals with the highest scores on a should be basis were: communication skills; skills to be an effective member of a problem solving team; critical thinking skills; and, ability to develop short range goals and objectives.^ Concerning business size and business and higher education type, there was a comparability of scores on a should be basis among the respondents. The analysis indicated that no significant differences existed in rating the goals and aims of a liberal education. However, the data suggested that collaboration between business and higher education will be extremely difficult due to cultural differences. ^