Is a DBA Worth It?

Is a DBA worth it? Male employer gesticulationg and explaining idea in light office

Would you introduce yourself as a lifelong learner? How about an expert? These two questions should be a call, tapping into your inner critic, because finding an answer isn’t all that simple. In my view, you cannot become an expert without being a lifelong learner which, given external constraints can be a big challenge. Formal education can aid to some extent, take for example a doctorate in business education. It gives you a structure, a ladder on which you can climb to become an expert and develop good habits of a lifelong learner. Is a doctorate in business administration (DBA) worth it? For an aspiring expert, it may well be an important impulse.

By now you’ve completed your bachelor’s and master’s studies, possibly an MBA or an EMBA. You have work experience, led successful teams, led teams that failed, you’re managing a team of 5, 20, 200? Great! All experience matters and will be part of the path. A doctorate in business administration (DBA) seeks to tap into this experience, utilizing your existing knowledge and enabling you to level up though the aforementioned structure. You may already have your system of learning but structure of how you learn but also how you present your knowledge is critical. The DBA program sets you a structure from day one in terms of taught content as well as self-study, assignments and research. You learn how to think like an expert and structure your arguments which may be seen as a worthy aspect of the program.

A DBA degree – an important step on the way to becoming an expert

You cannot know everything, you may know a little on many things which is smart and add to that an area about which you possess extensive knowledge, then you’re considered an expert. Whether it’s gamification of supply chain management, teamwork in Industry 4.0 or operation of legal contracts within blockchain, specializing in one field means acquiring as much as possible of existing knowledge and contributing in the field to develop new knowledge about the subject – not just your own private knowledge but knowledge in the more open sense. If you are coming from business, surely this must sound grandiose but actually the aim of the DBA is to help you become confident in coming up with such contributions. It also gives you a platform and a standing to do so, making the DBA worth it. In a way it leverages your expert position and helps your recognition in this exclusive club.

Is a DBA woth it? This is what the DBA graduate says!

Is a DBA worth it? I posed this question to Dr. Tim Dereymaeker, Senior Manager at Porsche Consulting and graduate of the DBA program at Munich Business School, and here is what he had to say:

Portrait Tim Dereymaeker, DBA graduate of Munich Business School

“Yes, it is worth it. My strongest personal motivation to pursue a DBA was to make a valuable contribution to a real-world business problem from my work environment. Since I am supporting our clients with their sustainability and ESG strategies, my doctoral thesis was a perfect extension to combine my projects with research. For example, I just published a strategy paper at our company on ‘Greenshoring – Location Decisions in Reverse’. This was a spin-off out of my thesis. Consequently, it does now allow me to support our clients with much more expertise and to improve my own reputation”

What stems from this is that a program such as the DBA gives an opportunity to develop expertise which then helps others achieve their goals – something that experts aspire to do. The program gives a structure which then has to be backed by commitment and discipline. Dr. Dereymaeker considered it to be another project and approached the pathway to becoming an expert methodically:

“I scheduled “working sessions” in my calendar (e.g., at least 10h on the weekend) and tracked my progress with KPIs (e.g., as-is and to-be word count per chapter). For sure, the thesis also requires some in-depth critical thinking, however, the whole DBA project management is a much more important skill in my opinion to free enough time for quality work. “

In response to the question if a DBA is worth it, my answer is yes, because of the structured approach it provides to becoming an expert in the field, whilst bridging the gap between academia and business. This gap exists in people who completed their degrees and worked in the industry for a number of years. The DBA offered by Munich Business School in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University first addresses the gap through taught modules on critical thinking, business issues and research methods which serve as preparation for the actual research that takes place in phase two of the program. Thanks to this structured approach, you are able to make the most of your existing experience, gaining confidence on the path to becoming an expert in your research field.

The author is responsible for the content and form of the article.

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Maciej Kapron
About Maciej Kapron 24 Articles
Maciej Kapron has been a Study Advisor as well as Program Manager for the MBA programs at Munich Business School since June 2023. Previously, he was also responsible for the DBA program. He holds a BA in Diplomacy with Law and an MSc in International Management from Loughborough University and completed part of his degree at Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Lisbon. During his MSc degree, he focused on marketing, specifically within the area of brand management and services marketing however, in his thesis he evaluated entry strategies to new markets of a global automotive manufacturer.