Business doctors

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Click here to read about all of KSU's DBA graduates. Kennesaw State University graduated its…

Georgia (May 9, 2012)

Click here to read about all of KSU's DBA graduates.

Kennesaw State University graduated its first students with a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree during May commencement. The first class enrolled in 2009, and six of the eight students graduating with a DBA from the Michael J. Coles College of Business have already accepted faculty positions at business schools across the country.

“With an average of 25 years of professional experience and rigorously honed research skills, these graduates will have a significant impact on the business schools and businesses with which they will work,” says Neal Mero, executive director of the DBA program. “The blend of leadership experience and doctoral training provides a rare combination of the practitioner-scholar model that will benefit academic as well as professional communities.”

The DBA program, tailored for working executives with extensive business experience who want to pursue an academic career, was launched in 2009. Students attend a full day of classes over two-, three- or four-day sessions on the KSU campus 10 times a year. Students learn how to apply theory to better understand and pursue business opportunities.

“Our graduates will be the most relevant new doctoral graduates in the country,” Mero says. “Through their teaching and research, they will leave a lasting legacy of the kind of impact the Kennesaw State DBA program can have.”


Three of the DBA students who graduated in May share their stories:


After four years teaching strategic management at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, Ruben Boling is now on tenure track. He was able to continue teaching while completing the DBA program over three years. “I knew I needed a terminal degree that would help me in my career,” says Boling, who had previously considered Ph.D. programs. “I looked for a quality doctoral program that would allow me to continue teaching and finish in a reasonable time.”

Though classes for the DBA program met only once a month, he spent at least 25 hours a week preparing for class, whether it was reading articles, developing proposals for research topics or writing papers. He honed skills in researching a topic and extending it into a theoretical hypothesis. Prior to starting his DBA, Boling had launched two start-ups and also worked for large organizations such as Arthur Andersen and Georgia Power.

Boling, who serves as director of the Center for the Future of North Georgia at North Georgia College & State University, wrote his dissertation on how executives influence the entrepreneurial orientation in family versus non-family businesses. He extensively researched characteristics of company executives and strategic postures such as entrepreneurial orientation and differences in the strategic focus of family and non-family firms to come up with a hypothesis.

 “The program was very rigorous,” says Boling, an engineer who has an MBA from Georgia Tech. “I was expecting it to be rigorous and it was.”


Juanne Greene chose to pursue the DBA instead of a Ph.D. because it afforded her flexibility and the opportunity to continue working while attending school full time.

“Unlike the traditional Ph.D., the DBA is focused on theory application rather than theory development,” says Greene, a senior lecturer in organizational behavior and human resources at the Coles College of Business. “The DBA fills a need in academe that traditional Ph.D. programs may be less able to fill.”

While Greene pursued a DBA in management, she appreciated the program’s cross-disciplinary nature. Exposure to lectures by the program’s global scholars, which give students the opportunity to learn face-to-face from the best scholars in their fields, reinforced the cross-disciplinary nature of the program.

For her dissertation, Greene explored a concept called “job embeddedness,” which measures how connected employees perceive themselves to be to their organization. Contrary to prior studies, her research suggests that job embeddedness may contribute negatively to performance outcomes. “I considered how personality, commitment and exchange relationships influence the relationship between job embeddedness and both performance and counterproductive behavior,” Greene says.

The DBA will allow her to pursue a tenure-track academic position. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Greene, who has a master of labor and human resources from the Ohio State University. “The DBA program leads nicely into a career in applied  research.”

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Vijay Patel wants to use his business experience plus the knowledge he gained over the past three years pursuing his DBA to teach around the world and “create millionaires.” Now that he has graduated, he is working on putting together seminars to help individuals launch their own businesses.

“I’ve got 35 years worth of experience. How do I create value out of it?” says Patel, who has an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. “What could be better than creating five or six millionaires around the world and the cascade effect of the value they will create in turn?”

Patel says the DBA helped bring together his extensive experience in venture capital and investment banking with academic theory and concepts. His scholarship has focused mostly on the interaction of strategic management, entrepreneurship and innovation. Along the way, he published an article titled “The global family business: Challenges and drivers for post-border growth,” in a peer-reviewed academic journal. He co-authored the article with Coles College of Business faculty Torsten Pieper, visiting assistant professor of management, and Joe Hair, DBA founder and professor of marketing and professional sales.

For Patel, interacting closely with faculty and fellow students was one of the highlights of the DBA program. He said his classmates were “high achievers and highly motivated.”

Patel, who has built and then sold several companies throughout his career, sees a lot of potential in emerging markets. “One of the exciting things is emerging countries, there are lots of opportunities,” he says.







A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit