Nº 80



DBA/PhD: a need for clarification - Saper & Praxis survey - Impact of the Executive DBA - Alumni - New member of Faculty - Interview of the month - Doctoral award - DBA managerial impact prize - Videos - Publications - Admissions - Agenda - Management research news


A recent conversation with a colleague about DBA programmes leads me to remind our readers about what the Business Science Institute sees as some obvious (although not totally shared) points concerning the Doctorate in Business Administration.

1- The DBA and the PhD have very different objectives as clearly stated in the document published by EQUAL: in other words, the PhD aims to prepare future professors whose main activity will be to carry out teaching and research. On the other hand, the DBA is designed for business professionals with proven management experience, and who with the support of professors will undertake conceptual thinking based on their practice and resulting in managerial recommendations. The motivations of DBA candidates as expressed during the admissions stage are indeed very clear (Comment réussir son DBA?, (How to Successfully Complete Your DBA?) collection Business Science Institute, éditions EMS, 2017, p. 30). Since its creation in 2012, the Business Science Institute has indicated the following statement on its web site: “Does an Executive DBA enable a candidate to become a University professor?  It has not been designed with this in mind.  If this is your project, then you should prepare for a PhD or doctoral qualification at a University".  At the same time, it is obvious that individual professional pathways are varied and not always straightforward. 

2- In France, the DBA is a university qualification and the PhD a qualification certified by the State. The situation varies from one country to another, and this difference does not exist everywhere.  In the same way, the MBAs created by French Universities and Grande Ecole Business Schools are qualifications awarded by the institution, whilst the Masters in Management are awarded or certified by the State.  Does this therefore call into question the reputation of an MBA?  Are MBAs worth less than Masters?  This hierarchy between a PhD and a DBA only actually makes sense for those who want to become a university professor and therefore in general look to obtain a qualification delivered by the State.

 3- Creating a hierarchy between DBAs and PhDs is therefore nonsense. During a DBA viva, when a colleague suggests that the candidate should have studied for a PhD given the quality of the thesis, they are not making sense.  In the same way as we wouldn’t compare an information systems thesis with a medical one, comparing work that does not have the same final objective or marking criteria is absurd.  The two programmes are not the same: the DBA is assessed on the link between the field of practice (which is behind the thesis question) and the concepts, and on the relevance of the managerial recommendations that come from the results, which is not the case for traditional doctoral programmes.  If we had to make a comparison, it would be vertical rather than horizontal.  On a continuum, on the one side we have traditional PhD programmes dominated by their epistemological, methodological and conceptual concerns, whereas with the DBA (even if the literature and methodology are naturally present), it is essential that there be a strong foothold in the field of practice as well as a link between the managerial recommendations and the empirical results.  Concerning the comparison between the quality of work, my experience of supervising more than 60 PhDs, participating as an examiner in over a hundred PhD vivas and my experience of several dozen DBA theses, I can assure you that big differences in standard deviation exist whatever the format.
Let’s also not forget the important role of the responsibility of institutions and quality assurance processes for the final value of the work carried out. 
For example, a candidate who was not authorised to proceed to the viva stage by the examiners at the Business Science Institute successfully presented their thesis at another institution several months later.

Professor Michel Kalika 
Scientific advisor and President of the Business Science Institute



In February 2020, a survey was carried out on the DBA Saper & Praxis Association with the doctoral candidates and graduates of the Business Science Institute.  Below are the details of the main findings:

We received 29 full responses from doctors and 48 full responses from DBA students.

A majority of doctors at the Business Science Institute  are familiar with the existence of the Saper & Praxis association, however, they consult little information about the association's activities on social networks. On the other hand, doctoral students at the Business Science Institute are not informed about the existence of Saper & Praxis.

Rather, the respondents propose a decentralized governance with global coordination.

To date, the association does not propose any activities. Our results show that there are indeed expectations of the Business Science Institute's doctoral students. They want to "consume" information about the association's activities. They wish to increase doctoral student - doctor relationships. As for the doctors, they wish to share their knowledge, create and always learn...

Read the full survey results

Based on the results, actions will be carried out in the coming weeks. We can already announce that the next general assembly of the international association Saper & Praxis will take place in Wiltz in September 2020. A conference allowing doctors to meet, share knowledge and continue training will be organized in February 2021 in Switzerland. It will be open to doctoral students to whom we will propose targeted activities in connection with their doctoral studies.

Summary of the findings written by Cédric Baudet, Professor at la Haute école de gestion Arc // HES-SO - University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, and Business Science Institute graduate (Geneva n° 1 - 2013-2015)


Cédric Baudet

Aline: You were one of the first ever graduates from the Business Science Institute.  Why did you make what wasn’t a really obvious choice?

Cédric Baudet: In 2012, I was working in a Business School and I was offered the opportunity to carry out research.  However, whilst I was an experienced lecturer, I was only just starting out in the field of management research.  I therefore needed some training!  Having done a Masters at the University of Geneva, Professor Emmanuel Josserand (who used to work there) told me about a “young” institution that offered business practitioners the possibility of studying for a doctoral degree.  Professor Michel Kalika was then able to convince me of the coherence of his project and the quality of the professors working at the Business Science Institute.  Indeed, it wasn’t an obvious choice, but as is often the case it’s just a question of the people you meet and trust… 8 years on I’ve got lots of happy memories and absolutely no regrets.


Aline:  What has been the impact of the thesis writing and viva process?

Cédric Baudet: A very positive impact!  I’d like to talk about 4 different moments.  Before starting the Executive DBA thesis, when I was a business practitioner lecturing in a Business School, I was part of a research institute.  I didn’t have the “codes” to enable me to understood my role in this context.  During the Executive DBA thesis, I got pleasure from learning to create and share knowledge.  And very quickly my job performance improved.  After the Executive DBA thesis, I felt I was missing something, which persuaded me to undertake a PhD in management, which I finished in 2019… Today, I’m a professor in a major tertiary teaching and research institution in Switzerland where I’m a member of the management team of the Business School and I’m about to begin to co-supervise my own first doctoral candidates!  One thing is now sure – I’m convinced that management research should include doctoral business practitioners to create knowledge that is rigorous and relevant!


Aline: You play an active role in the Saper & Praxis alumni association, for what reason?

Cédric Baudet: Each year I come to Wiltz to share my experience with the candidates and I find that the Saper & Praxis association meets a major need of the Business Science Institute candidates and graduates. Following the initial good work of the founders and managers of the association, they decided to step down.  To keep the association going, a ‘seasoned’ graduate needed to get involved because it has an essential role to play for our community of manager-researchers.


For the launch of the first cohort in Abidjan, the African Centre for Management & Training of Executives (CAMPC) and the Business Science Institute are organising a round table event at La Maison des Entreprises (CGECI) PLATEAU on 19 March 2020.

On this occasion, twelve Business Science Institute graduates will be present to discuss the topic “Can a manager create knowledge?”.

  • Introduction by Joseph P. Assi Kaudjhis, Managing Director of CAMPC,
  • Conference on “Can a manager create knowledge?” by Michel Kalika, Emeritus professor at iaelyon School of Management - Jean Moulin University, Scientific Advisor and President of the Business Science Institute,

Cases created by managers along with eleven Doctor-Managers from several different African countries 


Hélène Delacour

Qualified with a PhD in Management from IAE Paris School of Management at the University of Paris I Panthéon - Sorbonne, Hélène Delacour is Full Professor at IAE Nancy School of Management at the University of Lorraine where she runs the Masters 2 programme in ‘Global Management of Innovation’.  She is also in charge of the research team specialised in Innovations and Entrepreneurial Dynamics (IDE) in the CEREFIGE Research Laboratory, co-chief editor of the M@n@gement journal, and President of the Scientific Advisory Board (CSP) of the International Association of Strategic Management (AIMS).  Her research focuses on innovation, creative industries and Dark tourism.


Interview with Professor Marie-Christine Chalus-Sauvannet, member of Faculty at the Business Science Institute.

Aline: Hello, Prof. Chalus-Sauvannet, could you briefly introduce yourself?

Marie-Christine Chalus-Sauvannet: I am full Professor at iaelyon School of Management where I’m in charge of the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) run by the Business Science Institute and the Master 1 in International Business. My research explores entrepreneurship, corporate strategy and business intelligence. As part of this, I created and have developed the CREATE research team specialized in the entrepreneurial eco-system. During my career, I’ve worked in the private sector in quality assurance in particular, as well as Marketing Director at an industrial group specialised in manufacturing plastic material for the construction industry, and as a Strategic Management and Business Intelligence Consultant. I’d also add that I’m actively involved in a scholarly organisation based in Lyon called ʺLa Société d’Economie Politique et d’Economie Sociale de Lyonʺ (SEPL – The Lyon Society for Political & Social Economics), where I’ve been General Secretary and President between 2016 and 2019.


Aline: What is your role at the Business Science Institute?

Marie-Christine Chalus-Sauvannet: I’m in charge of the Executive DBA University Diploma (DU) at iaelyon School of Management which awards the qualification. It’s my job to ensure that things run smoothly between the two institutes.  Firstly, this means managing applications received through the iaelyon School of Management web site, and then secondly for those who are successful, it means managing the process from registration through to the awards ceremony in collaboration with the Admin Manager, Mrs. Delphine Boissonnet.

Aline: What persuaded you to become involved in the project and what is involved in supervising a DBA thesis? 

Marie-Christine Chalus-Sauvannet: the DBA is a particularly interesting form of doctoral study for professionals who as students offer a rich business experience to our field of research and are capable of developing the scholarly skills needed to add value to their experience thanks to a solid grounding in research and excellent supervision. It’s a highly relevant approach for professionals who want to do a thesis. The Business Science Institute offers them a high-quality and proven approach. The Institute has more than seventy university professors who supervise doctoral candidates from across the globe. This offers emulation to students and professors alike. So, these are just a few reasons why I wanted to get involved in supervising DBA theses and to represent iaelyon School of Management at the Business Science Institute.


Barbabé Lekama, Director of LGL Transport and doctoral candidate at the Business Science Institute (Paris n°5 - 2020-2023) will be awarded the 2020 professional-poet entrepreneur’s prize on 18 March next at the 32nd Journée du Français des Affaires (French Business Day), organised during the French Language and Francophonie Development Week.  The ceremony will take place at the Délégation Générale Wallonie-Brussels, in the 7th District.


The Business Science Institute considers that the principal characteristic of a DBA thesis is to create managerial impact from a subject that is rooted in practice and conceptual thinking enabled by high-quality academic supervision.  It is for this reason that in 2018, a managerial impact prize was initiated, and that since 2019 the Business Science Institute  has collaborated with Xerfi Canal and IQsog to ensure the widest possible communication of the results of our managers’ research.

The Business Science Institute’s mission is not only to support our candidates in their doctoral studies, but also the communication of the knowledge created during the thesis process.

Sébastien Bourbon, DBA Managerial Impact Prize "Le positionnement de l'agent immobilier sur le marché du neuf" (The positioning of the estate agent on the new-build housing market).

Xerfi Canal spoke to Sébastien Bourbon, Director of IFIC Real Estate Property Group, Winner of the DBA Managerial Impact Prize to talk about the positioning of estate agents on the new-build housing market.

David Larivière, DBA Managerial Impact Prize . "La prise de conscience du risque de disparition de l'organisation comme facteur de résilience : étude comparée de la transformation à l'hôpital public et privé" ("Awareness of the risk of the disappearance of an organisation as a factor of resilience: a comparative study of transformation in public and private hospital structures").

Xerfi Canal spoke to David Larivière, Director at the Robert Schuman Hospital of the Metz private hospital group and winner of the DBA Managerial Impact Prize, to talk about the awareness of the risk of the disappearance of an organisation as a factor of resilience.

Didier Mwewa Wa Mwewa, DBA Managerial Impact Prize "Rôle stratégique de la facilitation proactive pour les managers d'interface" ("The strategic role of proactive facilitation for interface managers").

Xerfi Canal talked to Didier Mwewa Wa Mwewa, programme specialist in an international organisation and winner of the DBA Managerial Impact Prize, to talk about proactive facilitation for managers.

Interviewed by Adrien de Tricornot.


See the 22 February 2020 edition with videos of:

Pr. Alain-Charles Martinet, "Incertitude : ce qui ne peut être évité, il faut l'embrasser" ("Uncertainty: what can’t be avoided should be embraced")

The extent of current change is such that our only certainty is that from now on we will have to face the uncertainty of: increasing technological change, upheavals in consumer usages and behaviour, the eruption of innovative business models that upset positions and even whole sectors of activity we previously thought were stable.  This is all part of the permanent destabilising of companies’ business environments.

It is vital to rethink strategy: the old analytical models no longer work.  In a world where instability is the norm, decisions are made in a changing competitive environment that is increasingly difficult to understand.  Managers need to be able to draw up and communicate strategies that will structure action and mobilise teams.  Uncertainty should therefore be built into strategic thinking.  In order to offer answers about this paradoxical context and to stimulate the thinking of business decision-makers and directors, the organisers of this conference brought together some of the best multi-disciplinary researchers and teachers confronted with the real-world issues of business.  What experience and what food for thought do effective tools provide us with in order to confront uncertainty?

Professor Alain-Charles Martinet and Professor Marielle-Audrey Payaud, "De l'analyse terrain aux théories du management" (From analysis of the field to management theories).

A crisis is never an enjoyable experience.  Strange as it may seem, for researchers in the fields of business, management, strategy and corporate governance, the 2007-2008 financial crisis did not just have its faults.  Indeed, it helped us to become aware of the importance of knowledge in management, strategy and governance.  It is this growing awareness that was behind the development of a “Strategy Encyclopedia”. 

Interviewed by Pr. Jean-Philippe Denis.




Michel Kalika, Gordon Shelton, "BSIS A Journey of Self Discovery, Global Focus", The EFMD Global Magazine, February 10, 2020.



Executive DBA Abidjan – Cohort n°1 (2020-2023) 

Executive DBA - Bamako - Cohort n° 2 (2020-2023)


Executive DBA - Casablanca - Cohort n°1 (2020-2023)

Executive DBA Douala– Cohort n°3 (2020-2023)


Executive DBA Francfort - Cohort n°2 (2020-2023)



Executive DBA Paris - (English Language) - Cohort n° 1 (2020-2023)


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Executive DBA - Francfort

Seminar 4, qualitative research methodologies: 26-28 March 2020.


Revue française de gestion (French Management Review) 2019/7 (N° 284) Valorisation sociétale de le recherche en gestion (Management Research for Society)

Fenêtres ouvertes sur la gestion (An Open Window on Management)

Read the 8 February 2020 edition (in French)
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