Career options with a DBA

Career with a doctoral degree in management
  • Posted by branddon on 12/31/12 2:53pm

    Dear DBA COMPASS team,

    what exactly are my career options with a DBA? I mean, how do I profit from it exactly???

    Good job!

    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 12/31/12 3:06pm

      Hi Branddon,

      thanks for your message. What are your career options with a **Doctor of Business administration**? Well, let's first of all pin down what your career options are NOT:

      - With a DBA, you are NOT looking for an entry job as with [Masters in Management (MIM)](http://www.mim-compass.com)
      - You are not trying to get management capabilities to do your job better or to qualify for another position or job as with the [Master of Business Administration (MBA)](http://www.mba-compass.com).

      I would not go as far as to say that - with a DBA - you shouldn't have a business career ambition at all because clearly a doctoral degree can signal to your employer that you qualify for higher positions and to some future employers that you qualify for top management jobs (in some countries such as Germany the doctoral degree still means a lot).

      But foremost your ambition is to do **research** (you should have fun doing that...) and qualify as a researcher.

      **Your profile will be very unique actually:** You will have your business experience as a practitioner AND at the same time you have proved to be able to do research and to combine your practical experience with academic knowledge.

      Again: I would never recommend to do a DBA "just for career aspirations within business" because the effort may be too high. But if you like research and have the resources to do a Doctor of Business Administration than it may open doors for you: e.g., to universities as a guest professor, to new positions at your current employer, and maybe even to new employers.

      Best wishes,
      Thomas

      By [Thomas Graf](https://www.dba-compass.com/Static/About)
      Founder DBA Compass
      Author of the [DBA Survey](https://www.dba-compass.com/survey)

    • Posted by Barry on 11/17/13 2:05pm

      Thomas - you mention that a DBA is not the route for improving your business skills like an MBA would so the ROI would be limited for a managerial career however would it not be the case that once one develops those doctoral level research skills then you can use them to develop unique solutions for higher level business problems in your organization and therefore provide a huge advantage for yourself in your company

      That's how I would see the usefullness of a DBA and actually takes your management and problems solving skills to a higher level than an MBA but still with all the practical benefits of solving problems for your organization and hopefully providing promotion and salary increases as you go along

      Any comments on the above?

      Thanks,
      Barry

    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 11/17/13 4:54pm

      Hi Barry,

      you raise a great point - thanks a lot for it. Ideally, that should be the case and I fully agree. And in fact, DBA theses are often center around specific business problems within the student's company - and that's a reason for the employer to finance or at least co-finance the DBA.

      Still, what you primarily learn in a research degree is research knowledge and methodologies in a specific area, and not directly applicable knowledge as in an MBA. This research knowledge can be seen - as you say - as problem solving skills on a very high or meta level, whereas the MBA provides you with management skills.

      I fully agree that managers with such meta skills should be much more valuable for employers than managers without. At least, I think that business would profit from at least some managers with such an extended perspective that can, in fact, be complementary to the 2x2 framework approach of many MBA programs (I am provoking a bit, I know...).

      Now, coming back to the career impact of an DBA: Employers that appreciate the value of such meta-competencies, and a clear signal that employers do so is when they finance your studies. In that case, indeed, the DBA should help you increase your salary or change/improve your position as well as your outside career options. By the way, I am currently conducting a survey among DBA programs and I included a question on the career impact. It will be published end of February here.

      Best wishes,
      Thomas

      By [Thomas Graf](https://www.dba-compass.com/Static/About)
      Founder DBA Compass
      Author of the [DBA Survey](https://www.dba-compass.com/survey)

    • Posted by Barry on 11/17/13 9:14pm

      Thanks for the reply Thomas and not sure I agree 100% that the main leaning is how to do research - for example if I research strategy implementation then I will also learn all about implementing strategies in great detail and the pros and cons of how to do that - this would be invaluable to a company who is embarking on a new strategy and may have had some implementation problems in the past.

      In addition by using this practicle knowledge and hopefully implementing a successfull strategy for the company I would be positioning myself for progress in the company - alternatively if I am successfull then I can be considered an expert in strategy implementation and new career options can arise or a move into consultancy. Then again perhaps the average MBA grad could read all the relevant literature and still drive a similar performance without doing all the formal research work required in a DBA

      - personally I don't find very attractive the idea of doing a DBA primarily to learn how to research something but rather that research needs to have some practicle objective that can benefit my career - otherwise the DBA is more a route into academia and there is already the phD route

      I am still playing around with this before deciding whether to commit or not to the DBA route :)

    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 11/17/13 10:13pm

      Hi Barry,

      I think we are not too far away from each other.

      *"I research strategy implementation then I will also learn all about implementing strategies in great detail and the pros and cons of how to do that - this would be invaluable to a company who is embarking on a new strategy and may have had some implementation problems in the past."*
      Fully agree!

      "positioning myself for progress in the company"
      Fully agree!

      "then I can be considered an expert in strategy implementation and new career options can arise or a move into consultancy"
      Fully agree!

      *"but rather that research needs to have some practicle objective that can benefit my career"*
      Fully agree. That's why DBA dissertations are less focused on generating new theory but rather on "applied research". Ideally, you generate new practical knowledge for your firm that helps this firm solve a problem; and by this, you position yourself as an expert.

      What I meant with "learn in a research degree is research knowledge and methodologies in a specific area, and not directly applicable knowledge as in an MBA" is: The texts that you read during your DBA are research texts. You learn what we know in a specific area. By writing your dissertation, however, you approach a concrete practical problem and develop a solution for your firm - and this is the process where you develop **applicable superior new knowledge**, which - together with all the research knowledge that you gained during your DBA - may indeed make you very valuable.

      Best wishes,
      Thomas

      By [Thomas Graf](https://www.dba-compass.com/Static/About)
      Founder DBA Compass
      Author of the [DBA Survey](https://www.dba-compass.com/survey)

      • Posted by shwekywet@gmail.com on 12/07/13 6:17am

        Hi Thomas,

        I think the value of networking shouldn't be discounted for any executive education programmes - some DBAs and professional doctorates target executives/consultants/managers and fellow researchers could be an interesting bunch to meet.

        Any thoughts?

    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 12/09/13 10:10am

      Fair point. Depending on the program and the type of DBA students it selects, you may meet very interesting people (e.g. more senior executives).

      However, I don't think you would do a DBA "just" because of this as the effort you invest to achieve the degree is too demanding. If you were looking just for top-contacts, you probably would do either a 2 -year Executive MBA or an even shorter Sloan MBA - or not even an MBA but executive education seminars instead.

      Still I agree: Meeting interesting people and building contacts can be a nice side-effect of doing a DBA.

      Best wishes,
      Thomas

      By [Thomas Graf](https://www.dba-compass.com/Static/About)
      Founder DBA Compass
      Author of the [DBA Survey](https://www.dba-compass.com/survey)

    • Posted by meighu on 09/23/15 1:09pm

      Hi Barry... Curious - did you jump on a DBA program? Mike

    • Posted by Barry on 02/14/16 8:58pm

      Hi,

      Not yet........