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Reference no. 9-620-044
Published by:
Harvard Business Publishing (2020)
12 June 2020
Revision date:
26 pages
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In its 2019 Partner Symposium, 2U, an online program management provider (OPM), showcased its new vision: 'Career. Curriculum. Continuum. A construct for lifelong learning in the 21st century'. 2U, founded in 2008, and went public in 2014, was looking to expand beyond their current degree offerings to include a wider range of programs, such as short courses, bootcamps, and professional certificates. Led by co-founder and CEO Chip Paucek, 2U believed that they were the strongest partner in the OPM market that could enable universities' digital transformation, allowing them to offer a variety of courses to a changing student profile. The universities, on the other hand, recognized that times were changing and that the appeal of a residential experience might be dwindling. Pressures of offering a more flexible learning format were mounting. Some schools were engaging in partnerships such as with 2U to get themselves online while others saw digital and online as the next evolution of instruction and that it was their responsibility to learn how to master it and own it. The case considers Paucek's challenge of leading a for-profit OPM. Was 2U growing in a way that risked alienating their most important stakeholders, the brand named universities themselves? Were the university leaders going to change their approach and start investing in the digital transformation themselves to avoid giving 2U a cut of their revenues?


Innovation; Make-or-buy decisions; Operations; Strategic innovations; Strategy; Transformations
50-500 million; Small
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