Fast-Moving Change and the Scholar-Executive: The Executive Doctorate in Business
By Louis Grabowski
For managers in organizations today, change is a fact of life. The authors of “No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends” estimate change is happening 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale, or about 3,000 times the impact, of the Industrial Revolution.
Adapting organizations to such change is challenging, with failure rates of change initiatives within organizations somewhere between 60 to 90 percent. Some of these challenges are technical, in which the problem definition, solution and implementation are clear and capable of being addressed by leaders and experts. Others, however, are adaptive, in which problem definition, solution and implementation are unclear. Such challenges require a more complex and collective approach to problem-solving and necessitate new learning by the organization and its leaders.
To meet adaptive challenges and solve increasingly complex problems, executives must see the big picture, be more global in their perspective, use data-driven and intuitive approaches in their decision-making, and improve their ability to lead effectively within their organization, industries and communities.
This new learning also means those occupying the C-suite must understand not only what has worked in the past, but also theorize about what may work in the future, and why and how it would. Such theorizing involves collecting relevant and accurate data, then analyzing the data in light of past studies and existing knowledge on the subject, in order to arrive at effective conclusions and solutions. It requires executives to become researchers as well as business persons.
Recognizing these needs, the number of executive doctorate in business programs offered by universities have grown dramatically. When it was founded seven years ago, the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration Council (EDBAC) had only four members, including the program offered by the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State. Today, more than 55 universities offering executive doctorate programs are EDBAC members.
Executive doctorate in business programs recognize education and learning should not stop with an MBA or other master’s degree. They are designed to allow top managers to continue their careers while simultaneously improving and widening their knowledge and perspectives on leadership, globalization and decision-making, and developing new skills in conducting and analyzing research. Executive doctorate programs are turning executives into practitioner scholars and researchers.
The rigorous research produced by practitioners with extensive business experience is becoming increasingly valued. EDBAC encourages scholarship at the intersection of theory and contemporary business issues through activities that include an annual conference. The Robinson College of Business recently announced the establishment of the Center for Engaged Business Research to address complex contemporary business issues through collaboration of the Executive Doctorate in Business alumni, industry, and Robinson faculty and alumni.
Change and adapting to change have become the norm in today’s business world. To be successful, executives need new learning and a more sophisticated understanding of the what’s, how’s and why’s than ever before. Such new learning requires new skills and perspectives, including the ability to address problems not just as business persons but also as learned scholars.
Louis Grabowski is director of the Executive Doctorate in Business program at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, as well as a graduate of the program’s first cohort in 2012. The three-year program teaches business leaders rigorous research skills they apply to a dissertation addressing a contemporary practical business problem while simultaneously exposing these executives to seminal theories of leadership, decision-making and globalization. For more about the program, visit http://robinson.gsu.edu/executive-doctorate-in-business/.