Case Study

Re-imagining Crotonville: Epicenter of GE’s leadership culture (A)

18 pages
June 2012
Reference: IMD-3-2313

The case examines the evolution of GE’s corporate university in Crotonville, NY from its founding in 1956 through 2010 and the start of an effort of “Re-Imagining Crotonville.” One of the world’s first corporate universities, Crotonville became a model of leadership development and a recognized innovator in its field. The case details the role that Crotonville played under successive GE leaders, from Ralph Cordiner – who inaugurated Crotonville to train general managers to support a sweeping decentralization program – to Jeffrey Immelt. It considers how the institution changed in response to changing business needs and the factors that contributed to its vitality and success over several decades. Beginning in the 1980s, Crotonville became the nerve center of a cultural change effort launched by CEO Jack Welch, spawning programs such as “Work-Out” to cut through bureaucracy and return initiative to individual managers. Following the global financial crisis in 2008-9, CEO Jeffrey Immelt and Crotonville’s leaders set in motion an exploration of the changing nature of leadership needed to confront the new realities in which GE operated globally. CLO Susan Peters initiated Re-Imagining Crotonville to align learning and development with these new leadership expectations. The case examines the choices faced by Peters and her team in re-thinking the environment, experience, and content of leadership learning at Crotonville.

Learning Objective

Understand factors that have made Crotonville central to GE’s leadership culture over time. Examine role of CEO and corporate leadership in driving cultural change through learning and development. Understand the unique assets and potential limitations of a ‘corporate university’ model for leadership learning. Explore the change management challenges of managing a legacy of success – continuing to evolve while preserving the strong ‘brand’ and ‘secret sauce’ that make Crotonville unique.

Organizational Learning, Learning Culture, Leadership Development, Corporate University, Leading Change, Transformation, Vision
United States of America
2010 and historical (1956-2009)
Field Research
© 2012
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note, Video
Case clearing houses
IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Looking for something specific?
IMD's faculty and research teams publish articles, case studies, books and reports on a wide range of topics