DBA Dissertation Requirements and Procedure

General Provisions

The dissertation candidate must demonstrate critical judgment, intellectual synthesis, creativity and skills in written and oral communications. It is expected that research at the doctoral level will make a material contribution to knowledge in the student's discipline and that it will demonstrate the student's ability to develop and carry out independent research. The doctoral committee administers the dissertation preparation and defense. The committee is appointed by the university President and consists of the Provost, the Academic Department Chair, at least two senior faculty members, and one member from another academic institution. By a request of the dissertation candidate the committee can be extended by an additional member by his/her choice in the field of the research and/or related to the content field. An 80% quorum is required for each committee vote.

Dissertation Proposal

A dissertation proposal must be submitted to the doctoral committee, which will ascertain that the subject of the dissertation is business related, of doctoral quality, and that completion of the dissertation is feasible. The dissertation proposal must be presented in the form of a written document and provided to the members of the committee at least 30 days before its oral presentation. If the doctoral committee approves the proposal, the student can move to the second stage of the main dissertation preparation and writing.

Dissertation Preparation

A good DBA dissertation should contain the following elements:
  • A title that is appealing and meaningful, reflecting the contents of the dissertation.
  • An abstract that summarizes the whole dissertation in an accurate manner. The abstract plays the cardinal role of creating first impressions of a candidate's work. It should therefore be well organized around the problem statement this dissertation addresses, the research approach deployed, the main findings and their theoretical and practical implications. It should not exceed 300 words. Below the abstract, about five key words need to be given that guide the reader towards the main issues of interest in the thesis.
  • A DBA dissertation should contain at least five chapters, namely (i) Introduction; (ii) Literature review; (iii) Research methodology; (iv) Findings, and (v) Discussion and Conclusions. Every chapter should end with a brief summary that captures the main points that have been discussed.
  • The introduction chapter should provide an adequate overview of the theoretical gap in the literature and/or the empirical gap in practice, indicating the significance of the study. The problem statement should be accurately defined, and the research objectives and research questions should be well formulated. There should be consistency in the problem statement, research questions and research objectives. A brief description of the research approach should also be included in this chapter. The introduction chapter should end with a clear outline of the structure of the document.
  • The second chapter, the literature review, should show mastery of the literature on the topic of interest in this dissertation. Literature used should be relevant to the problem statement and research questions. It should be up-to-date and from credited sources. Literature should be well reviewed (e.g., discussion of core concepts, their dimensions and relationships between concepts). The review should not merely summarize the literature reviewed, but should contrast, compare and combine the literature to make one's argument. At the end of the review, the reader should be able to see the point of departure/gap in managerial/theoretical thinking and how the current study proposes to close the gap. This visualizes the proposed relationships between the variables of interest and guides the formulation of the hypotheses in case of explanatory (always quantitative) research or initial propositions in case of explorative (often qualitative) research.
  • The methodology chapter (chapter 3) should consist of an elaboration of the research strategy, and where applicable, the study of population sampling method, measurements of key variables, data collection methods, data processing and data analysis, and the techniques that will be used to ensure validity and reliability of the results. Methodological choices are motivated and justified. In case the research setting text is quite elaborate (e.g., description of company or industry under study), this setting could also be presented in a separate chapter after the methods chapter.
  • The study findings (chapter 4) should be presented in a transparent manner. Accurate conclusions should be drawn from the data analysis used. Figures and tables are recommended to be used to present the research findings. The data analysis presentation should be separated from the interpretation of results of the analysis, which occurs in the next chapter.
  • In conclusion chapter 5, a brief summary of the main research findings should be given, followed by a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of these findings. The issues covered are: how do these findings contribute to the existing body of knowledge; are they contrasting/confirming/extending what was expected; how do they alter managers’ view of the business world, decision-making process, organizational strategies. In other words, how do the findings contribute to current professional practice. There should be a reflection on outcomes of the study. In the limitations section of this chapter, the weaknesses of their study need to be reviewed, providing input for the formulation of recommendations for further research.
  • The dissertation should have a sound structure and a clear writing style. All expressions and grammar should be used in the correct way. It should use APA style references, APA style in-text citation, and the reference list should be complete. The candidate should use information ethically; all ideas, text, graphics, tables and media should be credited to the source.

Five hard copies and a soft copy (for the plagiarism check) must be submitted to proposed committee members at least 30 days before the defense. The candidate should verify, by contacting each member of the doctoral committee, that the dissertation is acceptable otherwise respond to questions or remarks in writing. The committee may request additional independent review, and/or some work corrections before passing the dissertation to the defense status. Failure to comply with this procedure may result in a delay of the defense. Based on the information from the committee members, the President or the Committee Chair will schedule the defense. The Registrar must be notified 14 days in advance of the defense by the committee chair.

Dissertation Defense

The committee members constituting 80% quorum should be present for the full duration of the defense. The defense is partitioned into two components:

First component is open to everyone. This component includes the dissertation presentation of approximately 30 - 40 minutes, followed by the questions and an open discussion. The candidate may be questioned on the subject of the dissertation and additional topics related to the field of study or candidate's ability to organize and conduct research. The committee members may ask questions directly and the audience should first ask permission to do so from the Chairperson who can stop or interrupt questions if they are irrelevant or take too much time. The Chairperson can allow open discussion after questions but all potential speakers should inform him/her before the discussion starts.

Second component is open only to members of the committee and the dissertation advisor(s). The committee will formulate the final decision of the dissertation status. The work passes if at least 75% of all present voting committee members support it. The committee may request additional independent anonymous review, and/or some work corrections before the passing grade (CR or NC) is given.

After the dissertation corrections and/or additions (if required) two copies of the approved final text should be provided to the Registrar's Office. One of these copies, an additional title page, and the abstract will be submitted for the publication in "American Doctoral Dissertations."