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Monday, 10 October 2005

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Della Bradshaw

I think any comment on the future of the doctoral market is very timely, especially in light of the Bologna agreement in Europe. Prof Iniguez says he dares not dissect here the difference between PhDs in management and DBAs - very wise indeed!

Isn't the problem that, particularly in the US, DBAs and PhDs in management are exactly the same degree? My understanding of the situation in Harvard University, where the term DBA was coined, is that the PhD and DBA only differ in who awards the degree - if the business school gives the degree it is a DBA, if the department of arts and sciences awards the degree it is a PhD.

Can European schools choose to hijack the term DBA and redefine it for their own ends?

My particular concern in Europe is about the German system of higher education. There university business schools, with 70 or 80 full-time faculty, graduate 100 or more doctoral students a year. The universities claim these doctoral degrees are equivalent to a US or British PhD. But are they?

The Bologna agreement has at its heart the idea of portability of qualifications. How should corporations and academia outside Germany view these doctoral degrees?

Enrique Dans

The "Ph.D. experience" provides its "victims" with skills and abilities, such as quantitative and qualitative analytical tools, that are sometimes highly valued by the job market. I remember some of my peers at UCLA being hired by universities, and others by institutions such as large banks and consulting firms. The problem is when firms assume that by hiring a Ph.D. they are just "buying computing power", instead of "true research capabilities". Firms assume that Ph.D. grads will be "weirdos" who are not of any practical value, they need to be reeducated in order to be useful. Most Ph.D. programs prepare students for research from a methodological standpoint, but fail to provide a true research mentality, a real asset that could be useful to firms and corporations. And in fact, very few of these firms feel the need to do real research, or even know what research is about. From my perspective, the problem with Ph.D. programs is that they reflect the nature of research at many universities: instead of being a true value-adding, discovery process, it turns into being a source of useless papers for a tenure track: the more, the less practical, the more complex, the better... finishing a Ph.D. with a set of papers that can be "shown without fear" to a potential employer becomes the real challenge.

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