CityU DBA puts focus on real-world issues
[Sponsored article] When senior IT manager Monica Tang decided to pursue a part-time doctor of business administration (DBA) degree, she set stringent criteria.
“I felt taking a DBA is a major milestone, and choosing the right programme is the key to success,” Tang says.
On her list of priorities, the programme had to be rigorous, practical, and offered by a world-class university. The taught courses and class meetings had to be flexible enough to fit her busy schedule. And she wanted a course where fellow students were experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds who shared a passion for solving complex, yet wide-ranging business issues.
All this pointed to the DBA offered by the College of Business at City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
“So far, everything about the programme has exceeded my expectations,” says Tang, who is in the second of an expected four years and found no trouble adjusting her routine to accommodate weekend classes held once a month.
The journey to date has been challenging and exhilarating. Online access to CityU's comprehensive database and other administrative support has helped in balancing work and study commitments. For example, a browsing app makes it possible to read reports and research papers when travelling. And a dedicated librarian and statistician are on hand to offer time-saving support.
“Everything about the programme helps to develop skills as a critical and reflective learner,” says Tang. The taught components provided valuable insights into research methods, which she has also put to good use in her job at the University of Hong Kong.
During the first 12-18 months, DBA students learn advanced research techniques and how to write academic papers. CityU also offers a wide range of electives to enhance all-round knowledge and help in formulating research proposals. Individual mentors advise on suggested choices and specific areas. Typically, these relate to a challenge faced by each student’s own company or industry, but also with a view to creating benefits for the wider community. The mentors are all senior faculty members with expert knowledge and understanding of the latest business practices.
Tang chose to study the impact of leadership on employee work outcomes in her research. She has been impressed by the level of faculty support and guidance and continues to appreciate insights offered by fellow students based on their own leadership experience.
In January, Tang presented her interim findings at a seminar jointly organised by CityU and the Project Management Institute (PMI) of Hong Kong.
“There is reward and satisfaction in looking for answers to important questions and, at the same time, creating new knowledge that can be shared with society as a whole,” she says.
The culmination of the DBA is a 50,000-word thesis, which has to be defended before a panel of academics and industry experts. If all goes well, there is a good chance of being invited to present research findings at international conferences and being published in respected academic journals.
Professor Muammer Ozer, director of the DBA programme, sees the emphasis on quality research and academic rigour as its defining characteristics. Also important is the diverse student mix, which includes experienced executives from different countries and industries, as well as from NGOs.
“Our students are successful high-achievers and leaders in their own areas of expertise, who can offer fresh perspectives and ideas,” Ozer says.
Significantly, the programme uses a spiral learning approach, which involves revisiting and fine-tuning research work to achieve high-quality results. Also, the classroom dynamic and resulting friendships offer a unique networking platform.
On average, applicants have around 20 years of senior management experience, which enhances their ability to create and apply knowledge through original research. Candidates should have a master’s degree, but exceptions can be made.
Ozer notes that, while the DBA is anchored in the practicalities of the business world, some aspects resemble the work done for a PhD. He adds that it is a matter of pride for CityU that the programme allows them to bring together world-renowned professors and successful business leaders with a passion for solving complex business issues.