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The DBA has been specifically structured to fit in with the Otago Business School's commitment to the concept of socially responsible and sustainable business, which are specific areas of research and teaching strength throughout the School. It combines the development of research, analytical and critical problem solving skills at doctoral level with exposure to new business theory and interdisciplinary approaches to business.

The DBA consists of two components. The first year involves six papers covering aspects of business and research methods. There are three core papers in Socially Responsible Business and Research Methods. Students can then choose their remaining three papers from a list of electives. The second and third years are dedicated to researching and writing up the thesis.

Programme structure

Year 1 - Coursework component

Teaching will be teacher-led through seminars and tutorials, but flexible to the needs of the students, who will be professionals with jobs. Lectures and seminars are live-streamed as well as recorded and made available on Blackboard for students to access. Teachers makes use of on-line group discussions and will provide an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning through formative oral feedback on research proposals, presentations and other assignments.

While the DBA is primarily delivered as a distance programme, students are required to attend a short residential workshop during each paper in the coursework component year. These workshops are held at the Otago Business School in Dunedin. Students are required to pass the coursework component year with a minimum grade of B+ in each of the papers and to successfully present a Research Proposal at the Confirmation Seminar in order to be confirmed and proceed to the thesis stage.

The three core papers for the DBA are:

BDBA 907 Socially Responsible Business

An examination of business principles and practices with a strong focus on attributes such as ethics, social awareness, responsibility and sustainability.

BDBA 905 Research Methodology I

The research process from the theories of research epistemologies through generating research ideas and developing a research design.

BDBA 906 Research Methodology II

The practice of undertaking research from selecting a methodology, through primary data collection and using secondary data, including statistics and big-data analysis.

The following are the elective papers. Please note not all will be available every year.

BDBA 901 Organisational Leadership and Change

The principles of leadership styles and success, how attitudes can impact on individual and organisational performance, corporate cultures, the principles of organisational change, how it is implemented and leading change.

BDBA 902 Organisational Psychology

The principles of organisational psychology, the role of emotional intelligence, the realities of group dynamics and group behaviour, intergroup conflict and cooperation.

BDBA 903 Globalisation and International Trade

An examination of critical issues in the operation of multi-national businesses, including currency hedging, information security, sustainability, tax havens, risk, and changing geo-economic power.

BDBA 904 Contemporary Issues in Finance

An investigation of contemporary issues in micro finance, examining Fin-Tech, behavioural finance, financial regulation, finance and monetary policy and emerging market finance.

BDBA 908 Sustainable Business

Examines how businesses are responding to sustainability and climate change in the current socio-economic context, and encourages students to create alternative scenarios of future business worlds.

BDBA 909 New Thinking in Marketing Theory

Considers major changes to our understanding of how marketing works and the ways in which consumers behave.

BDBA 912 Strategy and Growth

This paper focuses on the link between organisations and the dynamic and uncertain environment in which they operate, and introduces students to the key concepts related to strategy and system thinking.

BDBA 913 Governance and Data-Informed Decision Making

This paper will introduce students to the value of data to help support effective governance and decision-making to arrive at solutions that address complex organisational problems.

Years 2 and 3 - Thesis component

The thesis is a research based body of scholarly work which integrates real life industry problems with applied business theory. The thesis is structured around a research problem identified by the student that has relevance for their business or industry. It may include a professional business case, reporting improvement or development of a specific business area.

Two thesis supervisors will be assigned to each student during the course of the first year, as the students develop their research proposals. Regular contact between the teaching team, the supervisors, and the candidate will be structured throughout the coursework and research stages to facilitate student progress. At the research stage, similar supervisory procedures to the University's PhD processes are followed.

Information for applicants:

All applicants are required to submit the following information in e:Vision as part of their application:

  1. An initial research proposal which outlines the problem that will form the basis of the research thesis
    The DBA Research Proposal Guidelines (PDF) provide information about what is expected as part of the research proposal
  2. An up-to-date CV
  3. The overall and individual course/paper grades (transcripts) you have received for the highest degree you have been awarded/are in the process of completing. You should note that all DBA applicants should normally have completed a graduate level program (either an Honours or a Masters programme)
  4. Certificates of degrees that you have been awarded
  5. If your first language is not English, the results of an English language test (i.e., IELTS or TOEFL)
  6. Letters from three referees

After we have received your application, the Programme Director will contact you to arrange either a face-to-face or Zoom meeting to discuss your research proposal, research background, and reasons for wishing to undertake a DBA at the University of Otago. During this call/meeting you are encouraged to ask any queries you may have about the DBA programme.

A formal offer of a place on the DBA programme is made through the e:Vision on-line system so you will need to ensure that you have an email address for electronic correspondence.


For further information about the DBA please contact the Programme Director:

DBA Programme Director: Dr Sarah Carr
Otago Business School
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
New Zealand
Tel: +64 3 479 8573

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