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MBA Vs DBA: How Business Education Can Drive Organizational Change

Cranfield School of Management’s Executive DBA students work to transform their companies from the inside out

Fri Oct 27 2017

BusinessBecause
Andy Wood was working as the sales and marketing director on the board of Adnams Brewery in Suffolk, England, when he decided to pursue Cranfield’s School of Management’s Executive DBA program.

In the penultimate year of his DBA he was promoted to managing director. Now, he’s CEO.

The Cranfield Executive DBA—a four-year, part-time doctoral program—helped him gain the expertise necessary for senior leadership roles.

Through the DBA program, Andy learned to take a holistic approach to management, and adopt a startup-like approach to transform a 145-year-old organization.

“The DBA prompted a change,” Andy explains. “Traditionally, we dealt with cask beer, but with the right investment in production, manufacturing, and logistics, we’ve been able to take advantage of the craft beer revolution that’s taking place.”

“The DBA is an act of faith,” he continues. “But the person who comes out at the end of the program can add huge value to the company they work for if they’re committed to implementing the knowledge they gain.”

Cranfield’s Executive DBA is targeted at employees in senior positions—practitioners, policy-makers, and consultants.

Participants conduct in-depth research into the company they work for—the program gives employers, in essence, an internal consultant streamlined to the progressive needs of their organization.

“Four years’ worth of external consultancy would cost a lot more than the cost of a DBA,” says Emma Parry, the Cranfield Executive DBA director.

“After graduating, a lot of the students are more motivated and committed to their organization, and a member of staff that will perform better and produce results is invaluable.

“The DBA opens up a lot of options,” she continues. “Firms can conduct the research they require through a trusted employee, and that has the potential to revolutionize their organization.”

Where a company can spend vast amounts of money seeking the advice of consulting firms, by sponsoring an employee to pursue the Cranfield Executive DBA, companies gain real-time, proactive problem-solving from someone schooled in company history, values, and ambitions.

For Emma, it’s a no-brainer: “From a year into the program, the students are asking a lot more questions,” she says. “They are asking all the ‘whys’, considering all available options, looking for more in-depth research.”

So, what the difference between a DBA candidate and someone with an MBA?

“DBA candidates make higher quality decisions,” Emma continues. “When you do an MBA you solidify your knowledge of management. At the level of DBA, it’s about dealing with complexity and uncertainty.”

For Emma, developing the ability to deal with complexity and uncertainty across the board, and widening the critical thought process, is vital for participants looking to transform their organizations.

Over four years on the Cranfield Executive DBA, participants are schooled in topics such as governance and organization, engagement, influence, and impact, and personal and professional development.

Alongside Emma, Cranfield’s expert DBA faculty includes David Denyer, an internationally-recognized expert in organizational change. David was voted HR Magazine’s ‘Most Influential UK Thinker’ in 2012, and became a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2016.

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