The Great Training Robbery

by Michael Beer, Magnus Finnstrom, and Derek Schrader

Overview — There is a widely held assumption in corporate life that well trained, even inspired individuals can change the system. This article explains why training fails and discusses why the “great training robbery” persists. The authors offer a framework for integrating leadership and organization change and development, and discuss implications for the corporate HR function.

Author Abstract

In 2012 U.S. corporations spent $164.2 billion on training and education. Overwhelming evidence and experience shows, however, that most companies are unable to transfer employee learning into changes in individual and organization behavior or improved financial performance. Put simply, companies are not getting the return they expect on their investment in training and education. By investing in training that is not likely to yield a good return, senior executives and their HR professionals are complicit in what we have come to call the "great training robbery."

Paper Information

  • Full Working Paper Text
  • Working Paper Publication Date: April 2016
  • HBS Working Paper Number: 16-121
  • Faculty Unit(s):