(Formerly Donlinks School of Economics and Management)
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Doctor of Business Administration
1. Why study for a DBA?
The DBA is a professionally orientated doctorate positioned for working executives focusing on the development of a broad range of advanced research skills and their application to real problems of practical value to organizations.
The research is able to support a major organizational development or change effort, and as such, it can significantly impact an organization’s thinking, its processes, competitiveness, and profitability.
The DBA will be of interest to working executives that are motivated to become academic researchers in a work-based environment. Doctoral training can help to refine durable skills such as problem framing, data analysis, or the ability to synthesize discordant understandings, skills which are increasingly valued in many professional roles and by industry.
It is an opportunity to research something in depth, to create new knowledge, to make fresh connections between existing ideas, it can provide intellectual stimulation, it can enable executives to think differently about organizational phenomena, and it is an opportunity for working executives to align their research focus with their intended career.
Using one’s own research to address a significant organizational challenge is an efficient way for the working professional to obtain a doctorate whilst sustaining the pace of their professional and career development.
2. How does the DBA differ from the PhD?
The DBA is equivalent to the PhD in terms of its academic rigor but the DBA exists to support individuals who are pursuing a range of career paths within and beyond academia. The DBA should be of particular interest to working executives who are seeking to apply academic research to substantial issues of practical relevance to organizations.
The PhD is often motivated by issues arising in the academic literature whereas DBA research is more likely to be motivated by an organizational concern and in this sense it is more likely to be applied research. DBA research has a dual focus, it is expected to contribute to both theory and practice, and significantly, it is the theory-practice combination that stands the greatest chance of extending the boundary of professional knowledge.
The DBA therefore is likely to require deeper engagement with an organization than is often the case with a PhD. The executive researcher is absorbed in a practice, making decisions, taking actions, and working alongside other executives in addressing major organizational challenges, while at the same time working towards a doctorate.

3. What is unique about the USTB – MMU DBA?
A unique feature of the program is the recognition that organizations are complex systems and that to intervene and effect change in these systems requires a broad range of advanced social and natural science research skills. These advanced research skills are developed through a series of taught modules supported by online activities.
The program also provides a structured approach to the assurance of learning, where academic teams and participants take joint responsibility for what is learned.
4. The DBA program in outline
There are three stages to the award of the Doctor of Business Administration.
Stage 1:
Building Research Capability
The focus of Stage 1 is to begin the process of building research capability by providing the knowledge and skills that will enable the DBA researcher to undertake advanced research in the theory and practice of management.
In addition to the research skills that one would normally expect to find at doctoral level, Stage 1 begins the task of developing the ability to develop theories that will enable them to learn more about one’s own organization.
Stage 2:
Developing and Deepening Research Capability
In Stage 2 the focus switches from building fundamental research capabilities to one that is concerned with deepening the capabilities needed to undertake a rigorous piece of doctoral research on a major project.
Stage 2 will involve further conceptualization, making refinements and adjustments to the research design in the light of any unforeseen problems and opportunities.
Stage 3:
Career and Organizational Development
At this stage of the doctorate the researcher will be well advanced in the production of a rigorous piece of research that has parity with the PhD. Normally, the working executive will work on a large-scale project that is of major significance to the organization. As such, the working executive will be expected to have either overall responsibility for the project or have a major leadership role in its development.
The research outcomes are expected to lead to a change in organizational practices and/or significant improvements in productivity and economic performance for the organization as well as constitute an original piece of research.
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School of Economics and Management, USTB
30 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, 100083