Hitotsubashi ICS began offering a doctoral degree program for business executives in October 2002. The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program, conducted in English, is designed to provide business executives with a doctoral-level education at the university's campus in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.
Hitotsubashi ICS offers a DBA degree, rather than a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degree, because a DBA program places more emphasis on business problem-solving and its practical implications, while a PhD degree is intended to provide the necessary theoretical and scientific foundation for an academic career. A DBA is suitable for individuals who want to contribute to the management community through writing, speaking, consulting, and teaching, and is usually not a path to a full-time academic job.
The DBA Thesis
The Hitotsubashi ICS DBA program develops management practitioners who can serve as “one bridge” between the worlds of academia and practice. DBA candidates combine insights from their own practical experience as managers with new knowledge derived from a rigorous program of independent research and exposure to the latest, cutting-edge ideas in business schools. They are required to produce a distinctive, unique piece of research at the leading-edge of applied management research. A DBA thesis should not simply be an exercise in theory-building or research methodology, but should produce ideas, theory, frameworks, models, and insights that will change how managers think about a business issue.
DBA theses differ from books of unsubstantiated conjecture in that they draw on empirical research to examine the relationship between variables (e.g., the firm's behavior and profitability, strategy, performance, etc.). The underlying premise is that empirical research strengthens a book’s argument and impact, particularly if the evidence provided is objective, i.e. different people drawing the same conclusion, and alternative explanations are ruled out. To qualify as DBA research, theses should answer a research question or test a hypothesis based on data collected from surveys, interviews, participant observations, other field research (e.g., case studies), or archival and other sources. Put in a different way, the DBA thesis is an undertaking to answer a focused research question or to support an argument with evidence.