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e-Disintermediation: Colleges and Corporations Beware!

July 8, 2013

Harvard and Stanford dropouts earn billions, but historically dropping out was risky business; employers demand not just talent, but academic credentials. The factory assembly line—universities manufacturing corporate jobs—was a 19th and 20th century invention. However, post-industrial age, commercially-omnipotent platforms and apps compete directly with traditional institutions.

Tell the 13,000-odd buggy whip manufacturers in 1890 that, by 2010 only one would survive (thank you Westfield Whip for beating all odds), and you’d be a laughing stock. Today, approximately 2,500 four-year colleges in the United States are closing at alarming rates, oblivious to their buggy whip future. With large corporations downsizing and outsourcing, college assembly lines now produce products with limited demand, their graduates. To the gig, sharing, barter, artisan and collaborative economies, academic degrees are unnecessary. 

What are colleges and corporations to do? Reinvent themselves. Colleges? Sell high-overhead infrastructure. Develop incredible, economically-relevant learning platforms. Corporations? Abandon top-down, asset-rich 20th century paradigms. Sell high-overhead infrastructure; focus on core competencies. Be the lean platform, not the bloated infrastructure. 

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One Comment
  1. Ron Zastre permalink

    I’ve been trying to explain this for a few years. I’m a writer with a high school diploma and life long experience designing and building things. Any academic can tell you; that don’t cut it in the literary world.

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