Apple University Snags Another Top Business Academic

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Apple's executive training program—Apple University—has snagged another top academic. Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt found a report from a Norwegian newspaper that said Apple has hired Morten T. Hansen, a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Information.

Morten T. Hansen

Morten T. Hansen
Source: UC Berkeley Bio (via AppleInsider)

Great By ChoiceIn addition to his academic career, Mr. Hansen co-authored the 2011 best seller Great By Choice (iBooks, Amazon Kindle) with Jim Collins. In fact, when Apple tried to recruit Mr. Hansen in 2009 when Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was still alive, Mr. Hansen declined the position in order to finish that book. He and Mr. Collins has been working on the project for 7 years.

Apple University is a major part of Steve Jobs's efforts to ensure that Apple outlived him. It's headed by Joel Podolny, the former dean of the Yale School of Management.

In a 2011 piece on Apple University, Jessica Guynn of The Los Angeles Times wrote that, “[Steve Jobs] identified tenets that he believes unleash innovation and sustain success at Apple — accountability, attention to detail, perfectionism, simplicity, secrecy. And he oversaw the creation of university-caliber courses that demonstrate how those principles translate into business strategies and operating practices.”

Apple University was also mentioned several times in Walter Isaacson's biography Steve Jobs. Mr. Jobs told his biographer that Apple was the thing he was most proud of, and that he had dedicated the last few years of his life into making Apple an institution that could continue innovating and thinking differently even after he, Steve Jobs, was gone.

To that end, Morten T. Hansen isn't talking about his specific role at Apple University, but he did tell Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, "Believe me, there are many talented people there. It's not like it was just Steve Jobs who ran the company."

Mr. Hansen will continue teaching one course per semester at UC Berkeley.

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All of which cuts to the heart of a recent wave of concern over whether Apple's days of innovation were over now that Steve Jobs is gone. As we have noted in the past, if you're a fan of Steve Jobs's ability to innovate, you should logically trust in his ability to innovate the way Apple is set up and trains its executives.

Couple the reality that Apple has retained most of its executive ranks—including talent like Joel Podolny—with the ability to hire people like Mr. Hansen more than a year after the passing of Steve Jobs, and you have a strong case that the Apple cofounder achieved much of what he hoped.

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