Is the DBA the new MBA?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Scott Henley, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. Scott Henley

    Scott Henley New Member

    With the ever upward creep of credentials, I was wondering if the DBA will start replacing the MBA as the de-facto management qualification?

    Will business people be addressing each other as "doctor" in the near future around board room tables?

    The reason I speculate is because certain professions are talking about raising their entry requirements, such as engineers and architects requiring master's degrees to obtain a license to practice.

  2. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    I seriously doubt that people will start calling each other "doctor" at the board room table. After all, it will likely only be the newbies that have the DBA and many of the old geezers will have MBAs or even no degrees at all.
  3. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Of course, the professions are talking about raising their entry requirements. After all, once you've gotten in yourself, why admit the new competition with the same mere lowly bachelor's that was your admission ticket back in the day?
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    No, I don't forsee that the DBA will become a de facto requirement. If it ever does, you'll hear more about people getting them from places like Wharton/Penn, Fuqua/Duke, and other top tier places.

  5. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    DBA training is oriented towards research rather than management practice. It trains you to write papers and conduct research. I doubt that this training can replace a practice oriented degree as the MBA.

    On the other hand, I see a trend in asking for certifications in most of the top management jobs. If IT oriented many ask for PMP, PMI certifications, if operations some ask for APICS certification, if finance oriented some ask for CFA certification and for accounting management CMA or CPA.

    I would invest my time in a certification rather than a DBA if I was interested to remain in management practice. The DBA is pretty much a credential that is useful for adjunct work at Universities and consulting. Tenure tracks have become very competitive with people from top Universities starving for them so a DL DBA from a low tier school is not likely to compete in this saturated market mainly because most DL schools have not publishing requirements required for tenure tracks.
  6. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Re: Re: Is the DBA the new MBA?

    The DBA is a research-oriented degree? Not really, at least not in theory! It is the PhD in a Business field that is at least supposedly the more highly theoretical research degree. The DBA, on the other hand, is more broadly based, with 2/3 of the degree taken up with general business courses and the remaining 1/3 devoted to the concentration, if there is a concentration at all, and the dissertation is supposed to be a practical applied problem. That said, at many universities, the technically correct theoretical distinction between the DBA and the PhD in Business has largely collapsed. On the other hand, nowadays, some schools are offering the DM, which is in fact what the DBA was supposed to have been in theory.
  7. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Re: Re: Re: Is the DBA the new MBA?

    Most of the 6 years that I spent doing one was mainly time to prepare papers, publish, conduct research and prepare dissertation and defend. The skills I earned were basically writting papers, publication skills, research skills and not much about management practice.

    Yes, the dissertation can be applied in nature but the research still needs to be done according to certain methodology.

    A DBA dissertation normally requires contribution to theory or practice, although most of the time practice. However, skills learned can hardly be applied to every day business jobs.

    DBA in general is a research degree, according to Wikipedia:

    "The degree of Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional research doctorate. The DBA (like the Ph.D.) does normally require a significant thesis or final comprehensive project including a formal defence and approval by an officially sanctioned and qualified doctoral review committee. The degree is conferred when all coursework, testing, and written research is completed satisfactorily then reviewed and approved by the committee."

    Wikipedia also says that:

    "European DBA's are often similar to American Ph.D's."

    Here a link about the difference between PhD and DBA
  8. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

  9. dl_mba

    dl_mba Member

    The only place i have seen/(heard on radio) where poeple address each other as doctors is in School Board Meetings (Miami-Dade)
  10. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Wikipedia's comment that European DBAs are like US PhDs means only that a European DBA requires coursework plus a dissertation, just as the US PhD requires coursework plus a dissertation (as opposed to the European PhD, which requires the dissertation only). The All Business Schools site sustains the distinction which I noted, to-wit, that the PhD dissertation requires the development of a new theory while the DBA dissertation requires the practical application of an existing theory (theoretical research vs. applied research). The Department of Education website only makes the distinction between doctorates requiring dissertations (which they term research doctorates) and non-dissertation doctorates (termed first-professional doctorates). But to say that, for example, the DA (Doctor of Arts) is a research doctorate is a bit off-base, as the DA is actually a teaching doctorate.
  11. Dr Dave

    Dr Dave New Member

    First, to answer the original question posed, I doubt that the DBA will ever become the "union card" or lingua franca for management positions.
    I would grant, however, that over the past 30 years, the number of business schools and the legions of MBAs that they pump out have, in fact, produced a glut on the market. So I'm sure that from a competitive standpoint, many MBAs these days look for ways to differentiate and market themselves.

    When doctoral programs in business first began in the U.S., I believe they were mostly DBA degrees. (Harvard was one of the earliest.) Fairly quickly arts and sciences professors became most common on business school faculties to formulate the body of knowledge, the cultures of research, the credibility of formal and disiplined programs of study in the fields of business and management, and the legitimacy of business degrees.

    For example, economists would do research and teach marketing and finance, psychologists and sociologists were found in the organizational behavior departments, mathematicians anchored operations research, etc. Because they had PhDs which are research based academic degrees, they had a huge influence on degree requirements.

    Soon PhD programs in Business came into being, and some that were originally DBA programs changed into PhD programs. Over more time, the distinction between the DBA and PhD started to blur. And finally, most doctoral programs in business in the U.S. granted PhD degrees, and DBAs became more scarce.

    So where the DBA was once the degree for scholarly practitioners and the PhD the degree for practicing scholars (that is, practitioners on one hand and researchers/teachers on the other hand), the blurring of the boundary began to make the two degrees indistinguishable--to the enormous detriment to the meaning of the degrees granted.

    Today, there are some DBA programs where the emphasis is on the broad scope of business focused on educating the generalist practitioner. The doctoral project is of a practical and applied nature, which extends knowledge in the field.

    All PhD programs, which are academic doctorates, instead emphasize theoretical studies within very narrow specialties. The dissertation is expected to make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field.

    Thus, (and I say again, most unfortunately) the generalist DBA knows a a little bit about everything, while the overly-specialized PhD knows virtually everything there is to know about nothing. The good news is that this dilemma forces does not go unacknowledged, and DBAs and PhDs often collaborate closely to bring synergy to a project.

    Now, obversely there are also DBA and PhD programs around that by their respective and seemingly identical requirements, are nearly impossible to tell apart, and they are truly interchangeable. Again, it results from business education derailing and losing sight of necessary and useful practitioner/academic distinctions.

    Have other disciplines done a far better job in separating the academic from the practitioner degrees? I believe so. Here are several good examples: The PsyD degree is definitely viewed as being clinical, while the PhD in Psychology is traditionally academic. (Yes, there are exceptions, and I'll address that momentarily.) The DSci is often the administrator of a scientific organization, while the PhDs are the researchers. The EdD is often (not always) found in educational leadership, while the PhDs in Education prepare future teachers in the universities. The PhD in Sociology does teaching and research, while the DSW perhaps runs a mental health agency.

    Yes, there are indeed exceptions to everything. PsyDs, EdDs, DSWs, and DBAs are all welcomed into higher education if they wish to teach. Deans are happy to accomodate them, because the cross-over provides a counterbalance practitioners to the PhD theoreticians such that the students all benefit from having balanced perspectives. And yes, PhD's work in industry and other endeavors outside of academe. But I would submit that the fields other than business I have mentioned here have done a better job maintaining the practitioner/academic divide. By comparison, the we now find the amorphous DBA/PhD glom in business and management. And I don't see it changing anytime soon.

    My conclusion is that anyone looking for a doctorate in business cannot discern a program form the name of the degree; rather, one has to examine the program in detail to determine whether or not it will be suitable.

    David April,
    BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    MBA, Boston College
    ACM, Boston College
    DBA, California Pacific University
    C.A.M., Institute of Certified Professional Managers
    CM, Institute of Certified Professional Managers
    CRM, Institute of Certified Records Managers
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2006
  12. sathyan

    sathyan New Member

    May Be

    I guess in the USA, most universities that offer a DBA program considers it as part of the core research curriculam.

    But in the UK and continental europe, most DBA programs are considered practitioner research degrees where in, they research a practical business probelm effecting their organsation(s) and try to find a solution to it. I am not sure if this practice is catching up in the USA as well.

    Sathya N
  13. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Re: May Be

    I'm curious. What highly ranked U.S. business schools, if any, have DBAs, and if any what is their structure?

    Anyone? I've never looked into this so I don't know if this is just a lower tier phenomenon.

  14. foobar

    foobar Member

    Re: Re: May Be


    Until recently, Indiana U.
  15. Scott Henley

    Scott Henley New Member

    Re: Re: May Be

    I know Harvard Business School and Boston University School of Management both have DBA programs.

    You'll find the DBA degree much more popular in Europe and Australia than in North America.
  16. Scott Henley

    Scott Henley New Member

    Re: Re: May Be

    Lower tier? The #1 ranked business school is the U.S. and maybe the world, has a flagship DBA program.
  17. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Re: May Be

    The DBA is a practitioner degree in the US.
  18. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Re: Re: Re: May Be

    Oh. Well, that answers that, then.

  19. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I totally agree with this. The European and Australian DBA is nothing more than the American PhD, they were created to serve the need of professionals to get higher level coursework and research skills with milestones. The American PhD format is more appealing as you have different milestones while the European PhD is pretty much all or nothing.
  20. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Re: Re: May Be

    A practicioner degree that is normally pursued by academics and that has little value in the real business world.

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