The Business Problem: The Foundation of the DBA Study


If you are getting a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), you likely will need to conduct a business study. The DBA study differs from the standard dissertation in one fundamental way: the business problem.

Standard dissertations proceed from a research problem. A research problem represents something unknown in a field of study, an inconclusive concern or unresolved issue in the research. This gap in understanding is a problem for research on the topic. Dissertation studies are designed to collect information to better understand the topic in question, thereby contributing to the field of study, which may also involve implications for practitioners. A DBA study, however, does not typically proceed from a research problem. A DBA study proceeds from a business problem.

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So, what is the difference between a research problem and a business problem? A business problem is a supportable identifiable problem in the business community. Business problems might include declining profits, high rates of employee turnover, or the dwindling of a specific business sector. Business problems must be supported by the literature or by statistics and involve collecting information to solve an identified business problem. So, a business study must proceed from a business problem.

Business problems require attention; they need to be addressed and corrected. That is where the business study comes in. As a researcher conducting a business study, you are collecting information to help address the problem and make recommendations for solving the problem. Therefore, if you are pursuing a DBA and conducting a business study, the first thing you need to do is to identify a business problem.