Feature Story: Distinctive Program for Motivated Leaders

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Feature Story: Distinctive Program for Motivated Leaders

Hear from Academic Director Prof Shaohui Zheng on what to expect from this distinctive DBA program for motivated leaders to make a positive business impact via applied research.


Distinctive Program for Motivated Leaders

The new Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) Program being launched by the HKUST Business School will give senior executives the chance to conduct meaningful research in areas that have a real impact on their industries and on society at large. 

“Committed to academic excellence, HKUST has rapidly risen in recognition in its short history and become one of the most respected business schools in Asia,” says Professor Tam Kar Yan, Dean of the HKUST Business School. “We are pleased to present our new DBA Program, which attests to our 30 years of ongoing commitment in driving rigorous research and global influence.”

The four-year part-time program, for which classes start in September 2021, is designed as a rigorous academic journey, which offers exposure to the latest business research trends, teaches the methodology needed to research and write a thesis, and provides expert supervision as students work towards that goal.    

Along the way, the general learning environment will see original ideas discussed, tested and developed into far-reaching insights, which can improve management decisions and enhance organizational effectiveness. 

And, as they progress, students will benefit from other strengths the School can offer – an internationally renowned faculty, proven excellence in research, an interdisciplinary approach to exploring new topics, opportunities to network with leading business figures, and consistent top rankings for its executive education programs.

 “For many years, we’ve been receiving enquiries from alumni and industry leaders about offering a DBA Program at HKUST,” says Professor Zheng Shaohui, DBA Program Academic Director. “So, we see a big demand out there, and at the same time, with our globally recognized research excellence, we are well positioned to create more significant impact on the business world.” 

The curriculum requires students to complete 55 credits, with the focus on coursework and thesis proposal in the first two years and on thesis research and short residential programs thereafter. 

Classes will generally be taught over long weekends, and the initial 16 modules, including core subjects and electives, cover subjects ranging from applied statistics, business economics and strategic management to information systems, financial accounting, operations and supply chain management, etc. 

“When students first apply, we want to know roughly what kind of research problem they intend to work on,” says Zheng, who is also Head of the School’s Department of Information Systems, Business Statistics and Operations Management. “In general, it should be related to their company or industry, but could have some broader implications. The focus can change later on, but to find eligible participants for the program, we want to make sure applicants have given it serious thought and have a strong commitment to their areas of research. Therefore, during the admission process, we will closely discuss with applicants their research interests.” 

To illustrate, he notes a proposal might center on ways supply chains and marketing campaigns are responding to change, or fintech’s impact on certain aspects of the banking system. There are few limits though, provided a topic meets the main academic criteria. And given how the business world is evolving, it seems likely that research proposals will increasingly bridge disciplines, examining for instance the impact of IT on operations or the interface between AI and marketing. 

“Many of our faculty are working on interdisciplinary research problems, so we will also provide students with this kind of opportunity,” Zheng says. “If necessary, they could have, for instance, one supervisor from finance and one from information systems.” 

For the third- and fourth-year residential programs, there will be three key objectives: to support regular, face-to-face interaction with supervisors and faculty members; to create a forum for networking and sharing experiences; and to interact with business leaders in various industries.

“Our aim is to nurture talent in applied business research and expose them to all the latest developments,” Zheng says. “A program like this is a long-term investment. Therefore, anyone applying should be clear about the time commitment and the tremendous efforts required to complete this highly challenging yet rewarding DBA journey.”

“The program seeks to admit a highly selective group of senior executives who are motivated to learn and share their experience, and are committed to go through this professional doctoral training with our faculty and their peers.”


“Our aim is to nurture talent in applied business research and expose them to all the latest developments,” say Dean TAM Kar Yan (left) and DBA Program Academic Director Prof ZHENG Shaohui of the HKUST Business School.

Source: https://www.bm.ust.hk/en-us/media-resources/overview/feature-stories/295