Unlike doctorates, which are academically oriented and aim to nurture researchers who often pursue a long-term academic career, the doctor of business administration (DBA) programme at the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) is a professional doctorate designed for practicing senior managers and experienced professionals with more than 10 years of experience. With corporate social responsibility being a big theme of the HKBU Business School, the programme puts a strong emphasis on CSR, as well as business ethics and sustainability. 'Unlike 20 years ago, companies today have to show they are behaving ethically, contributing to the community and so on, so anyone with a profound understanding of that is a great asset to a business,' explains programme director Professor Edward Snape, who is also head of the HKBU department of management. Demand is rising for business leaders who can apply advanced management methods to analyse and resolve complex problems, and who can thrive in a turbulent business environment. DBA candidates meet this challenge by becoming 'practitioner-scholars', or reflective practitioners, Snape adds. 'What we try to do is to get senior managers, professionals to reflect on their own practice in the context of the latest business management research. We want to use the research to sharpen their own practice,' he says. DBA's research requirement makes it more intellectually challenging than an MBA. Early on, each student is paired with an academic mentor. Students are also required to read management research in a critical way, studying both the conclusions and the methodology. 'In DBA, you are partly involved in pushing forward the boundary of knowledge because you are involved in completing a research,' says Snape. He highlights the need for business professionals to make decisions backed by research. 'Every time any of our graduates makes a decision, he should be thinking about it critically, whether it is the right decision or if he needs to know more about the problem,' he says.