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In a bid to clarify the position between academic and practitioner doctoral degrees, a group of US, European and Asia-Pacific business schools have set up the Executive DBA Council (Edbac), which will meet in June 2011 at Case Western Reserve University in the US.

The controversy surrounding the DBA (doctor of business administration) degree is whether it is an academic qualification, equivalent to a PhD, or a practitioner qualification, for those who already hold an MBA. A DBA from Harvard Business School, for equivalent, is an academic qualification, while a DBA from Henley or Cranfield in the UK is a practitioner degree.

Edbac is planning to promote the DBA as a practitioner qualification or an executive doctorate, an idea which is rapidly gaining traction, says Maury Kalnitz, director of the executive doctorate in business at Georgia State University’s Robinson college of business. “In the English-speaking, non-US world it’s a concept that’s out there and is going well. We are where we were with EMBAs in the late 1970s.”

Schools in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and much of Europe already run executive DBA programmes, most of which are part-time programmes. In the US, GSU and Case Western are leaders in the field. Prof Kalnitz says the market for such programmes is relatively small, though “there is a subset of people who want to go past the MBA”.

Organisers of the 2011 event are hoping for at least 20 schools to participate in the 2011 conference, where, says Prof Kalnitz, one of the big issues will be branding.Inaugural president of Edbac is Lars Mathiassen, eminent scholar in the centre for process innovation at the Robinson school.


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