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The DCR Doctoral Program: Celebrating 10 Years

My doctoral program recently turned 10. I joined the the doctoral program in Dynamic Capabilities and Relationships in 2011. The program was the reason for me to return from the UK to Germany. I was extremely excited about the opportunity. And the program did deliver: We were given absolute freedom to work independently on our research projects, had the opportunity to attend numerous research events, such as summer schools, workshops and conferences, and were supervised by experienced and well-published academics.

Shortly upon graduation from the doctoral program, in 2014, I became a Visiting Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I was privileged to spend some time with Samer Faraj’s Research Group on Complex Collaboration, whose work had strongly influenced my dissertation. In a sense, it was the culmination of my journey in the doctoral program and, of course, the foundation for my current work as a professor at Munich Business School.

To mark the 10-year anniversary, all members of the doctoral program were recently asked to write s short note of reflection. I chose to contemplate my first visit to the Academy of Management Conference, one of the world’s biggest management conferences, in the summer of 2011. (One of my key takeaways was…)

One of the conference speakers was Vijay Govindarajan, a professor from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. His presentation was about the 300 dollar house, a research project that was about creating affordable homes for the world’s poor, which would cost no more than 300 dollars in total. I recalled having read about this project in The Economist a few months earlier. At the heart of Vijay’s idea is the concept of frugal innovation, i.e. the notion of finding novel solutions for existing problems, while focusing on significant cost reductions (which Vijay did), the development of core functionalities or an optimized performance level. I was deeply impressed with his efforts of turning the idea into reality. A particularly noteworthy aspect was the use of social media to generate ideas and build an online community of practitioners that would not have been able to collaborate physically. In fact, this was to become a central theme of my own dissertation work.

One of my key takeaways was that the papers we read in class were not just dry conversations; they were lively discussions between real people. During the course of the doctoral program, we had the opportunity to meet and see many of the people whose work we were reading.

For example, Jeff Martin, who co-authored one of the seminal papers on dynamic capabilities (Eisenhardt & Martin, 1997), came to give the inaugural address for the second cohort of doctoral students in 2012.

Looking back, the program attracted a very interesting crowd of young scholars, many of whom are still active in the field. You can browse through their profiles and some of their stories in the document below.

I do realize that these were exceptional circumstances under which to complete a dissertation. Unfortunately, many doctoral students do not encounter them. I will remain deeply grateful to the Dieter Schwarz Foundation for having made this adventure possible.

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David Wagner

Management Professor, Academic Director (DBA) and Vice Dean, Research at Munich Business School

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