1 University Institute for International and European Studies Tbilisi Teaching University Gorgasali Doctor of Business Administration Programme Outline
2 2 TABLE OF CONTENT 1 Introduction Delivery and Student Achievement General Delivery Attendance Standard Period of Studies Assessment Scheme Grading Scheme Marking Scheme Grading Policies Taught Modules Doctoral Thesis Learning Support Student Handbook Awards Stage I: Research Methods Stages I and II: Completed DBA Studies Testimony of Doctoral Studies Admission to the Doctor of Business Administration Programme of Studies General Regulations for Admission Applications Formal Application Personal Interview Admission Programme Outline Business and Management Orientation of the DBA Studies Strategic Programme Objective Individual Module Outlines Introduction to the Research Methods Module Learning and Teaching Research Philosophy Introduction...16
3 6.3.2 Learning Outcomes Assessment Details Reading...17 Set Text...17 Seminal Articles...17 Further reading Research Strategy Introduction Intended Learning Outcomes Assessment Details Reading...19 Set Text...19 Seminal Articles...19 Further reading...19 Further reading Empirical Research: The Process of Collecting and Analysing Data Introduction Intended Learning Outcomes Assessment Details Reading...21 Set Text...21 Seminal Articles...21 Further reading The Research Proposal Introduction Intended Learning Outcomes: Assessment Details Reading...23 Set Text...23 Seminal Articles...23 Further reading The Doctoral Thesis Introduction Thesis and Research Outline Thesis Outline Allowed Word Count Admission to the Thesis
4 Fields of Theses Doctoral Supervision Process Duration of the Thesis Language of the Thesis Submission and Viva Submission Viva Academic Misconduct Conclusion...29
5 5 1 Introduction This documentation constitutes the Programme Outline for the Doctoral Degree in Business Administration (DBA) of the University Institute for International and European Studies (UNIES), the Netherlands, of the Tbilisi Teaching University Gorgasali, Georgia. DBA studies belong to professional doctoral studies (applied science), but are equivalent in their challenging expectations to scientific doctoral studies regarding knowledge, scrutiny of research and demonstration of evidence-based and defendable findings and conclusions. The academic purpose and objective of this programme of studies is contributing to existing knowledge and extending it by real world orientation through studies decisively differentiating graduates from Master s level through superior knowledge and capabilities. The programme of studies is aligned to international standards of Higher Education being also known as level 8 of studies. It fulfils the criteria of the process of Harmonisation of Higher Education in Europe accordingly. It consists of: Four taught Research Method modules being delivered in two blocks of physical student presence. (A distance learning version will be introduced as alternative form of study as well.) The Doctoral Thesis demonstrating independent empirical research as evidence of a candidate s ability and capability to undertake applied defendable and empirical research on the highest level of academic studies. If not taken by distance learning, the taught modules are delivered interactively and are based on actual methodological knowledge. The thesis itself is independent research, but guided by an individually allocated Director of Studies (DoS). Objective of this programme of studies is to fulfil the challenging demands, which constitute the doctoral level in forms of best practice and superior quality standards. The tangible and defended evidence of a significant contribution to knowledge and organisational practice is an indispensable part of these studies expressed in the Doctoral Thesis. Additionally embedded elements are the demonstration of the important factors of corporate and social responsibility, and sustainability. The overall outcome of this course supports graduates in their career development recommending them for employment in senior and top management positions. This programme of studies is considered as relevant, rich and academically valid by adoption of highest standards of Higher Education. Learning objectives and module contents are further closely related to the Six Principles of the PRME Framework of the United Nations. Professor Dr Klaus Oestreicher Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) Provost
6 6 2 Delivery and Student Achievement The doctoral programme of studies is delivered in two stages. The first stage is the successful completion of the four compulsory Research Method modules. Only candidates having successfully passed all modules are admitted to the second and essential stage, the Doctoral Thesis. The taught modules are delivered in two seven days presence blocks, which are intended to take place at the UNIES campus in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, for Research Method modules I and II and at the UNIES campus in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, for Research Method modules III and IV. Alternatively for distributed delivery models the two blocks of presence studies may be hold in the country of delivery. For local deliveries, the blocks of presence studies may also be divided into four extended weekend sessions teaching one module each over a period of not longer than six months (one semester) in total. Students wishing to attend the block deliveries at the UNIES campuses can do so instead. In addition to the formal contact hours students on all Research Method modules, the demanding level of doctoral studies requires students to engage in additional independent studies in empirical research during and between these taught modules. The alternative Distance Learning delivery will require students to study the content of each module individually within a specified period of time not exceeding six (6) months in total. All material of studies is available then on the UNIES s online environment. The assessments will be the same as outlined in the module descriptors. The DBA programme is especially designed to provide evidence for graduates Superior knowledge in academic and scientific work, while the nature of DBA studies as professional doctoral programmes also implies practice-orientation through real world applicability of findings. Highest levels of knowledge on inter-functional and cross-disciplinary complexities of contemporary challenges with practice-orientation (applied science). Capacity to exercise in-depth analysis by application of valid and reliable research on superior level, which has to be defended in the viva. Intellectual calibre and critical reflection reflecting the doctoral level of successful graduates. Problem-solving skills being based on empirical research and findings as essential demonstration of superior capabilities. Through these the DBA programme contributes to both science and best organisational practice.
7 7 2.1 General Delivery The course is designed to enable students to continue with their professional responsibilities. However each of the two taught blocks requires a complete week of students physical presence (or that over the weekend of delivery). Enrolled students have to take these four modules as part-fulfilment of this programme of studies. Participation at these presence studies is compulsory and a prerequisite for the admittance to writing their thesis, unless distance learning takes is selected. 2.2 Attendance Participation at the taught modules is compulsory: Students are expected to attend all sessions. If a student cannot attend for any genuine reason (e.g. illness), they are expected to inform the module tutor or programme leader in due time. If a student cannot participate at one or both of the presence blocks, they will have to attend the next available presence block (or weekend session). This may result in a substantial extension of their period of studies, which also is limited to a maximum of five years in total. A comparable regulation applies for studies delivered as weekend sessions. 2.3 Standard Period of Studies The standard period of studies is two (2) years. It consists of: Semester 1: Two blocks of Research Method Modules (or four weekend sessions, where applicable) one semester. Semesters 2 to 4: the Doctoral Thesis three semesters For improving their research, students may apply for an extension of their standard period of studies of up to one year (year 3 of studies). Such application has to be made in writing and an explanation on how such an extension contributes to improving their thesis. An extension will be granted, too, if a student cannot participate for genuine reasons in one of the presence blocks of the taught modules. The length of such extension will depend on the availability of the next taught presence block missed. For an extension to years 4 and 5, a student has to apply in writing, too, but will need their DoS s supporting reference in addition, in which the DoS explains why it is believed that such extension benefits the outcome. Professional reasons may justify an extension through serious affectation, as the length of these studies may not allow to foresee unexpected situations. In such cases written documentation has to be submitted, best supported by an employer s statement. In selfemployed contexts a thorough explanation will be accepted, too. However, the maximum period of studies of five years cannot be exceeded.
8 8 2.4 Assessment Scheme Each taught module is assessed. Students have to submit assessments testing their knowledge gained in each of the four modules. Passing all modules is a prerequisite for entering stage II of these studies, the doctoral thesis.
9 9 3 Grading Scheme 3.1 Marking Scheme Grading can be based on theoretical discussion only, but in the case of applied sciences it can also require and respect pragmatism. I.e., depending on the assessment brief, practice-orientation of an assessment then is of equal acceptance and value, but does not mean that submitted work can be without significant theoretical components. I.e., all assessments must include sufficient theory and adopt sufficient literature of academic acceptability. The literature has to be academically acknowledged meaning that public sources are not approved, unless specific research strategies (e.g. Grounded Theory) may justify such use. 3.2 Grading Policies Within the taught modules and the thesis a consistent policy of assessment takes place. Grading policies are for all assessments consistent Taught Modules The possible range of grades consists of: >91% 81 to 90% 71to 80% 61 to 70% 50 to 60% <50% High Distinction Distinction Merit Pass with Satisfaction Pass Fail = Retake of assessment Students, who have failed an assessment and/or module, are admitted to one retake. The maximum mark awarded to retakes is a Pass at 50%. The numerical average of all four modules marks contributes 20% to the overall result of the DBA programme of studies. To achieve consistent marking and as an implemented and proven control of quality all taught modules examination papers are subject to the moderating approval of the Examination Board. This process guarantees that students will find an impartial, equal and fair marking process of best practice.
10 Doctoral Thesis For the doctoral thesis no individual mark in form of a percentage is awarded. The thesis is assessed in four categories, which are Doctor of Business Administration Summa cum Laude Doctor of Business Administration Magna cum Laude Doctor of Business Administration Fail The thesis itself is not part of confirmation by the Examination Board, but by majority of votes of the Doctoral Viva Board. The thesis contributes 80% to the overall result of the doctoral studies. Particular reference is made to the specific regulations in the Thesis Outline for fails and in addition to the Doctoral Student Handbook. 3.3 Learning Support A major objective of especially the taught modules is providing blended learning to students. This is facilitated by: An induction to the studies on doctoral level Set module text books for each taught module Supportive supervision for the period of the thesis by an individually allocated DoS Online library Rich Virtual Learning Environment Facilitation of Peer-to-Peer interaction and with faculty for formative and summative assessment and feedback during the whole time of these studies Further information can be found in the single module s description. 3.4 Student Handbook Further essential elements of importance for this programme of studies are regulated and explained in the Doctoral Student Handbook. Students are advised to read these carefully as a regulating part of the course s structure.
11 Awards Stage I: Research Methods Each taught module on Research Methods gains students 7.5 ECTS credits. Through the total amount of 30 credits, the successful completion of all four modules qualifies for the Postgraduate Certificate in Research of the Tbilisi Teaching University Gorgasali Stages I and II: Completed DBA Studies Students, who have successfully completed the programme of Doctor of Business Administration are awarded on behalf of UNIES with the Doctor of Business Administration of the Tbilisi Teaching University Gorgasali 3.6 Testimony of Doctoral Studies Students, who may wish to terminate their studies before completion of their full DBA studies can obtain a written confirmation stating their present level of achievement.
12 12 4 Admission to the Doctor of Business Administration Programme of Studies 4.1 General Regulations for Admission Candidates must be in possession of a cognate Master s Degree; i.e., it has to be awarded by an officially acknowledged Higher Education Institution. Equally admitted are Graduates not having a Master s Degree, but another cognate Degree being directly comparable to a Postgraduate Degree, which is equivalent to level 7 of studies. This regulation acknowledges differences, which may internationally exist on national levels. 4.2 Applications Formal Application Applications must be made through the application form and are equally welcomed from individual candidates or from those being sponsored by employers. Each applicant is requested to submit the completed application form. The application form has to be accompanied by A certified copy of the Master s Degree or national equivalent Postgraduate Degree A complete and actual CV Two photographs in passport size A copy of the passport The Registry of UNIES will issue a Letter of Acceptance for successful applicants enrolling and admitting the candidate to the programme of studies Personal Interview Each applicant will be contacted by a member of the academic faculty for an interview. This can be a personal interview or made via electronic communication channels. Purpose of the interview is an assessment about a candidate s eligibility for these studies with particular emphasis on existing academic knowledge and capabilities. In addition the conversation will address a candidate s intended research project regarding suitability for studies on doctoral level, feasibility of the project and contribution to knowledge.
13 It is not essential that candidates have a completed outline of their intended research in mind. Important is that candidates are aware of the implications of such challenging and demanding studies and have the right skills and capabilities, which can lead to a successful outcome. Students, who need further advice on topic, structure and/or form of their project for the doctoral thesis will be guided and will receive advice and recommendations allowing them the later formulation of a research proposal Admission Completed and submitted application and the report on the personal interview with a candidate will be carefully assessed and the Board of Doctoral Studies will decide about a candidate s admission to these studies.
14 14 5 Programme Outline 5.1 Business and Management Orientation of the DBA Studies It is expected that the research project in form of the Doctoral Thesis is relevant and related to the scientific field of business, economy and/or management. The process of submission of a Research Project Proposal (please refer to the module outlines) supports students. Acceptable, but not limited examples are made in the thesis module descriptor. Crossdisciplinary research is welcomed and supported. Students can seek for advice and guidance with a faculty member for doctoral studies of UNIES. Such one-to-one consultation aims to facilitate the initial draft of the independent research project; in particular to make it feasible, relevant and with a focus on the extension of and contribution to existing knowledge. It is highlighted that the superior expectations of studies on doctoral level must be met. 5.2 Strategic Programme Objective The DBA programme of studies is preparing students to become responsible senior and top managers in an organisation s hierarchy, self-employed entrepreneurs or consultants. Major emphasis is that Graduates of the doctoral level differentiate themselves substantially from Master s level by superior knowledge, capabilities, but also approaches regarding ethical and moral standards. Additional attention is drawn to sustainability and social responsibility. Through profound orientation on defendable research, the programme of studies aims to educate, how evidence-based decision-making supports contemporary organisations and improves their viability and progress in today s challenging contexts. A specific focus on multiple constituents with differing expectations is complementing the mission of this programme of studies. This highest level of studies is considered as an exclusive demonstration of graduates expertise and knowledge.
15 15 6 Individual Module Outlines 6.1 Introduction to the Research Methods Module The following individual outlines offer an indicative introduction to the four individual modules of the first stage of the DBA studies. Each module gains successful students 7.5 ECTS credits. The successful completion of the first stage of this programme ends with the Award of the Postgraduate Certificate in Research. 6.2 Learning and Teaching Interactive lectures (unless distance learning is selected) emphasising student engagement will introduce students to essential research philosophies and approaches. In addition, attending students may also work independently, individually or in groups, for developing their knowledge on the theory of empirical research and its meaning, and to extend their capability for knowledgeable application. The interactive module structure will further make use of debates, discussions, and especially critiques of examples of existing research. Additional wide reading, especially after the module, is expected for intensifying the learning experience and as important preparation for the stage of the thesis.
16 Research Philosophy Introduction Research Philosophy is suggested as a foundation of research and hence becomes an indispensable element on doctoral level. Therefore it is essential that students understand the philosophy of research as a guiding principle for their doctoral journey. This makes it evident placing this module at the beginning for that students can discover and explore a range of theoretical research principles, which inform the various research methods. In this module students will discuss particular advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to their intended research. The purpose of this module is supporting students to critically evaluate their own research project and in addition allowing them an in-depth and qualified assessment of published research in books, journals and conference proceedings. Together with the following modules, Research Philosophy will enable students to select their own philosophy and research design. This is essential with reference to making an informed and justified decision to position their own research in Learning Outcomes At the end of this module students will have studied to: Differentiate between essential research philosophies and approaches. To evaluate advantages and disadvantages of specific research philosophies and approaches to empirical research. Undertake a critical literature review as assessment of the existing actual body of knowledge in a particular subject area. Extend their own understanding on criticality and depth regarding sophisticated levels of empirical research Assessment Details The module is assessed by one assignment. It forms an essay addressing all Intended Learning Outcomes of the module. Students are requested to write a critical review (parts of it) of the existing and actual literature taken from peer-reviewed research publications. It is expected to be relevant to the research topic of the intended thesis. If the topic or orientation are not fully developed yet, the review may adopt a wider orientation. However it must be relevant and according to the doctoral level involved. The requested literature review is expected to present:
17 An integrated and critical debate of the adopted literature (with regards to the allowed word count the recommendation is adopting five essential papers). A justification, why these papers have been adopted and not others. An explanation on the research philosophies and approaches adopted in the research. This should include an assessment of the authors approaches to the research and their research philosophies. The discussion of the advantages and limitations of each adopted article s research philosophy and approach. A conclusion that summarises key findings made and critically highlights the gaps in the adopted literature with reference to the intended own research. 17 The allowed word count consists of 4,000 words (+/- 10%) Reading Set Text Howell, K.E An Introduction to the Philosophy of Methodology. London: Sage Publications. Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A Research Methods for Business Students. 6 th ed Harlow: Prentice Hall. Seminal Articles All students are expected to read these works. These will be made available before the module commences. Further reading Bryman, A Social Research Methods. 4 th ed Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ridley, D The Literature Review: A Step-by Step Guide for Students. 2 nd ed London: Sage Publications.
18 Research Strategy Introduction After research philosophy, precise and consequential Research Strategies are of high importance. Which strategy suits the intended doctoral thesis most advantageously and supports to obtain data of empirical reliability and validity? Such choice must be carefully made and has to be informed. Students are made familiar with a variety of essential research strategies. This will intensify their existing knowledge. However major purpose is that such existing knowledge is brought to a level being expected for doctoral studies. The implications are wide and do not only refer to the appropriate choice of methods, time horizons and sophisticated methods of processing of data. Research Strategies emphasises the importance of consistency in empirical research and the effective approach to obtain data of defendable quality being able to contribute to knowledge. The module aims to deliver knowledge and ability to students allowing them to identify the appropriate research strategy and method(s) for informing their specific research questions of the thesis Intended Learning Outcomes Students should be able to: Assess different research strategies, make an informed choice of methods with reference to time horizons and an effective use of data (primary vs secondary) for their particular research. Critically evaluate research papers in terms of their consistency of findings and conclusions. Evaluate reliability and validity. Design effective research strategies to fulfil their research aims and objectives Assessment Details This module is based on one assignment addressing all intended learning outcomes of the module. It is in an examination-like form. Students are presented with two different questions on research strategies they will have to answer both questions and develop an appropriate research plan (to be presented in the appendix) for each individual question. Students argumentation is expected to cover:
19 19 A precise plan addressing the strategy Their explained choice of method, time horizons The proposed processing of data. Students will have to explain and justify each of these details and will discuss their proposed methods for gathering data of reliability and validity, which informs research questions. The allowed word count consists of 4,000 words (+/- 10%) Reading Set Text Howell, K.E An Introduction to the Philosophy of Methodology. London: Sage Publications. Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A Research Methods for Business Students. 6 th ed Harlow: Prentice Hall. Seminal Articles All students are expected to read these works. These will be made available before the module commence. Further reading Bryman, A Social Research Methods. 4 th ed Oxford: Oxford University Press. Further reading Bryman, A Social Research Methods. 4 th ed Oxford: Oxford University Press. Saunders, M.N.K. and Lewis, P Doing Research in Business and Management: An Essential Guide to Planning Your Project. Harlow: Prentice Hall. Yin, R. K Case Study Research: Design and Methods (Applied Social Research Methods). 5th ed Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc. Clark, M.A., Wilkie E. and Szivas, E. (2010). Researching and Writing Dissertations in Business and Management. Andover: Cengage Learning.
20 Empirical Research: The Process of Collecting and Analysing Data Introduction Empirical research requires specific scrutiny of collecting and analysing data. The process of gathering data, processing these and translating the results into meaningful and defendable findings has to be meticulous. Such high demands can only be fulfilled by acknowledged research methods, which must be defendable as the findings themselves. For doctoral research and theses the underlying expectation is significant. Bearing this in mind, the module on collecting and analysing data is an essential part for successful theses. It provides explanation and insights to students introducing various essential data collection techniques among which students can select. A further objective is delivering to students effective capabilities to design, collect and analyse the required data using techniques, which are acknowledged and tested in empirical research Intended Learning Outcomes Students should be able to: Undertake primary research by gathering data, which is valid and reliable for constructing defendable findings. Understand implications and make informed evaluations for secondary data and their analysis. Collect and analyse quantitative or qualitative data using appropriate methods, but also are enabled to apply mixed methods profoundly. Apply acknowledged methods testing their data regarding validity and reliability, but also takes potential bias into consideration. Respect ethics and moral in empirical research Assessment Details The assignment simulates a real world case being typical for organisational contexts. During the module Students will be introduced to two different research briefs an organisation may be interested in (e.g., market research, behavioural research, competitive analysis). Students will select one of the briefs and explore, which method(s) to collect data for answering the research question will lead to informed and defendable findings for deci-
21 sion-making processes. They will additionally explain the method of analysing data and why their overall process constitutes findings of validity and reliability. As third part of the assignment, students will make informed recommendations about realistic timelines and expected cost of such research simulating this way organisational practice. The assessment should be presented in a report format. The allowed word count consists of 4,000 words (+/- 10%) Reading Set Text Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A Research Methods for Business Students. 6 th ed Harlow: Prentice Hall. Seminal Articles All students are expected to read these works. These will be disseminated before or during the module and updated before it commences. Further reading Saunders, M.N.K. and Lewis, P Doing Research in Business and Management: An Essential Guide to Planning Your Project. Harlow: Prentice Hall. Sapsford, R. and Jupp, V Data Collection and Analysis. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
22 The Research Proposal Introduction Purpose and objective of this module is the elaboration of the final Research Proposal for the doctoral thesis. Based on students learning in the prior Research Method modules, this module refines and clarifies essential details guiding their thesis. Students are working with significant depth on the research design and will define a clear and feasible research strategy being specific and particular in and for their thesis. Group discussions and peer-interaction under the lecturer s guidance will additionally support an individual student identifying and deciding on a research method, which is academically credible and empirically valid Intended Learning Outcomes: Students should be able to: Identify clear aims and objectives, and reflect on precise questions to be informed in their thesis. Design a profound research proposal, which includes a critical review of the actual existing body of knowledge referring to their doctoral research. Identify a justifiable research strategy and data collection method(s). Defend the contribution to knowledge of their proposed research. Discuss research implications with reference to ethics Assessment Details This assignment requires students to elaborate a full research proposal consisting of a defendable argumentation: Why this research of their doctoral thesis contributes to knowledge? Which way it will do so (methodological justification)? What precisely will be researched (aims, objectives, research questions)? Why it contributes to improving organisational practice (applied science)? Which also identifies the possible limitations and the potential ethical issues of the chosen methods and problems, which might be involved.