Designing Sustainable Systems Curriculum

The PhD in Management: Designing Sustainable Systems track deepens and broadens a DM student’s skills in ways that prepare the student for an academic career involving teaching and research. While candidates are expected to be established in a specific domain of management scholarship, transdisciplinary research is the main focus of this track. The program is designed for students who want to build on their DM research.

The PhD in Management: Designing Sustainable Systems track involves 18 credit hours of independent research defined by student’s doctoral committee which consists of a chair and three faculty members. In general, the research seeks to incorporate perspectives from new thinking about design, sustainability, and complex systems as they relate to management in a global environment. The program and related independent stream of student study is devoted to significantly extending knowledge in relevant theories that help the student successfully write a doctoral thesis in management. It also advances their research dissemination skills with the expectation that they publish in relevant academic and practitioner-focused journals.

The second year of the PhD program is organized as a series of research workshops where students present and discuss their thesis work. The program also includes independent study of relevant research literature as recommended by the student’s dissertation committee.

Year One

The year-three curriculum of the DM program is year one of the Designing Sustainable Systems track.

Fall semester

  • MGMT 645 – Integration of Qualitative and Quantitative Inquiry
  • MGMT 640 – Social Ethics: Contemporary Issues
  • MGMT 646 – Advanced Analytical Methods for Generalizing Research


  • Quantitative research paper
  • Identify and organize thesis and committee

Spring semester

  • MGMT 664 – Knowledge Dissemination to Influence Managerial Practice
  • MGMT 677 – Designing Sustainable Systems
  • MGMT 614 – Business as a Dynamic System


  • Generate study plan and reading list for comprehensive examination
  • Write first version/draft of the PhD thesis proposal


  • Two-day workshop
  • Comprehensive exam
  • Dissertation proposal defense

Year Two

Fall semester

  • Dissertation research (includes participating in two research workshops/seminars)


  • A manuscript presented and defended in the research workshop

Spring semester

  • Dissertation research (includes participating in two research workshops/seminars)


  • A summary of the thesis or a specific paper presented and defended in a research workshop
  • PhD dissertation submitted and defended

For additional information, review the general bulletin.

Dissertation Research

This is an integrative course for PhD students, which focuses on presenting and debating their research as well as offering additional readings on research designs, methodology and research communication. The workshops include five workshops during the year: one in the summer and two in each of the fall and spring semesters. The workshops are intended to support and expand the students’ experience of conducting extensive research and writing a PhD thesis.

Comprehensive Examination

The examination requires the student to compile an extensive list of readings in the general domain of designing sustainable systems that have been covered during the student’s studies in the DM Program. The reading list is approved by the chair of the committee after consulting the dissertation committee. The student integrates that material with a list of readings pertinent to his/her discipline based thesis work. The comprehensive examination consists of a written examination and an oral examination. Both of these exams need to be passed to move to candidacy.

PhD Proposal

The initial requirement for writing the PhD thesis is to write an encompassing PhD proposal based on the knowledge obtained by conducting qualitative and quantitative studies in the DM Program. The proposal needs to identify the research problem being addressed, discuss and select different theoretical positions, select effective lines of inquiry, propose a way to conduct a study to address the research problem, and make a contribution to theory. The thesis should also effectively demonstrate how the student plans to expand the study beyond the contributions made in the qualitative and quantitative study.

PhD Thesis Dissertation

The dissertation work in management should advance theory in some area of management and provide credible evidence to validate and/or build theory. Typically a dissertation consists of three articles and an extensive introduction to the thesis domain, pertinent research in that domain, and a demonstration of contribution to management scholarship.

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Weatherhead School of Management
Case Western Reserve University

10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7235 USA