The Practitioner Scholar

Doctor of Management Blog

Transformation through Scholarship

March 16, 2010 ·

Through my work with a number of DM students and alumni, I have come to realize that the DM experience is essentially about transformative change.  There are several ways to characterize this change. First, most students enter the program with the idea that their engagement with the program will help them change their career path and transform it to something different and hopefully better in achieving their personal goals. These "instrumental" goals of learning are not substantially different of those why people enroll in MBA, or some other professional programs, and these goals are often met - many graduates do different things after the program. Many start a new business, change their business focus, or engage more intensely with academia as educators or administrators. But the transformative force of the DM program goes much deeper than career changes.  DM students and alumni widely report a fundamental change in their thinking and world-view.

In most cases DM graduates say that the program transformed how they see themselves as managers, colleagues, or citizens of the world. The deep and intense three year engagement in assimilating, building, critiquing, and communicating knowledge about management challenges and problems has changed what they read, how they read, who they think they are, how they think, with whom they communicate (more with their DM colleagues across the globe!), and how they consequently approach management problems and practice. They are more thorough in their analysis, exercise critical thinking, deploy multiple perspectives, and are open to multifaceted reasoning about a variety of management topics. Of course, this transformative experience is difficult and challenging, but in the end it is the most enduring effect of the program: the DM program literally transforms the self through creating new and different ways of looking at the management world.

This idea of "transformation" informs the overall design of the program. We are engaged in transforming the idea of management scholarship. Instead of remaining mired in abstract theory removed from practice (as is common in doctoral programs), we are trailblazing a new path - one where research practice is intertwined with practical, actionable theory.  We achieve this by cutting across the standard contradictions prevalent in doctoral education and look to synthesize theory and practice, rigor and relevance, and knowledge and action.  We start with practicing managers who seek to learn and engage in the theoretical management discourse and end up with practicing scholars who seek to engage in management action in new ways. In this way the line between practice and theory is blurred: the two are juxtaposed with a transformative impact.

Author: Kalle Lyytinen

Director of the DM Program


Tags: Faculty Perspectives

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