HBS Doctoral Programs

Is there more to life at HBS than the MBA Program? George P. Baker III, MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Business Administration and co-chair of the HBS Doctoral Programs, believes there certainly is. After completing the HBS MBA Program, Baker decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Business Economics through the joint HBS/GSAS program. “I wanted the opportunity to think very deeply about issues of importance to managers, more deeply than I thought I could as a practicing manager or even as a consultant,” explains Baker. Furthermore, a career in academia offered him opportunities to consider at a profound level some of the fundamental issues in business and management.

Professor Paul Healy, co-chair of the HBS Doctoral Programs, greatly enjoys these opportunities as well. “It’s a wonderful life [as an academic], because you get to work on topics of interest to you and set your own agenda. You can be intellectually curious, looking at the big picture, searching for patterns in the business community,” begins Healy. “Developing teaching material and educating bright, enthusiastic students is a great experience; you know you’re going to be around both MBA and doctoral students who will challenge your ideas and help push them further. You have intellectual freedom, freedom to manage your own time-of course, you need to be on campus for certain things, but you have the ability to chunk your time in ways convenient for you, especially if you are balancing work and family.”

Both professors are quite active within the HBS community. This fall, Healy is teaching Business Analysis and Valuation Using Financial Statements, a second year MBA course, while Baker acts as the Unit Head for Negotiation, Organizations & Markets and is teaching two doctoral courses. Why take on yet another role within the community?

“I have always worked closely with doctoral students, and the part I like best about being a professor is working with young people. The HBS doctoral programs have a great history and even more potential. The Dean has decided to make an even greater commitment to the improvement of the doctoral programs, and helping to realize this potential was something that appealed to me,” says Baker.

Healy agrees. “One of the activities we do as faculty members is research, and doctoral students make terrific collaborators in this area. You learn a lot from doctoral students in a different way from MBA students; MBA students often challenge the practicality of ideas, while doctoral students challenge their intellectual rigor. Working with both MBA and doctoral students is a plus.”

But why doctoral programs? Healy and Baker find this question easy to answer. Baker explains, “The mission of the HBS doctoral programs is to:

 produce scholars who will join faculties at other business schools, influencing the study of management through scholarship that reflects the unique HBS approach;

 enhance the scholarly environment of the school through the infusion of new ideas and cutting edge techniques; and

 train scholars to become part of the HBS faculty.”

The co-chairs envision the doctoral programs training the world’s leading scholars of management, who will not only contribute to the academic community, but who will also, consistent with the HBS mission, contribute to the well being of society through an improved understanding of management. Healy adds, “We have done a good job of educating business leaders and educational leaders in business, but we think we can do even better and have more of an impact.”

HBS currently has a total of 95 students in five doctoral programs, some offered in conjunction with other schools at Harvard University:

 Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in:
 Accounting & Control
 Policy & Management
 Technology & Operations Management
 PhD in Business Economics
 PhD in Health Policy (Management track)
 PhD in Information Technology & Management
 PhD in Organizational Behavior

According to Baker, “the key differentiating aspect of the HBS doctoral programs is our ability to take advantage of the unmatched academic richness of Harvard University AND the unique managerial perspective of HBS. In all of our programs, we take advantage of the scholarship of the rest of the university, while preserving a unique perspective that comes from HBS.”

The Doctoral Programs continues to reach out to current MBA students interested in learning more about an academic career. Many doctoral students have completed all or part of an MBA degree. “The experience of having been a student in the MBA Program is valuable training for a professor of business, but it is not a prerequisite,” remarks Baker.

Why might an MBA student consider a doctoral program? Healy answers, “If you are excited by ideas, you want to think about the trends and patterns in the world, then being an academic is a good choice. If you are more interested in the study of business rather than the practice of business, then being an academic is a good choice. Through your work in academia, you can influence the practice of business.”

So, for some individuals-like George Baker-getting an MBA may not be the last degree they earn from Harvard Business School, and a doctoral degree in business could be the start of a new career as a professor of management.