New executive doctorate prepares change leaders, expands career options

DODC
Students with degrees from any master's program now have the option to continue on to the new doctorate in organization development and change.

By Bonnie Blankinship

Bowling Green State University has brought together two of its most prominent graduate programs to create an innovative degree designed to open new avenues of opportunity for experienced professionals who wish to lead transformational change in business, organizations, education and communities.

The doctorate in organization development and change (DODC) draws upon the formidable combination of BGSU’s nationally ranked programs in organization development (OD) and industrial/organizational psychology. In addition, BGSU’s College of Business has the distinction of being accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), a credential held by only the top 2 percent of business schools worldwide.

With the professional doctorate, graduates will be equipped to serve as executive leaders, as consultants or in academia, with the flexibility and credentials to combine or move between the three. They can use their professional doctorate to lead change initiatives, teach if they wish, or develop their own consultancy, enlarging their scope of influence.

“With this degree, people can translate their experience into becoming thought leaders with a professional brand,” said Dr. Steven Cady, a professor of management and DODC director. “It gives them the credibility to share their expertise through producing and sharing knowledge, publishing, helping others to work better and bring about healthy change to revitalize communities, transform organizations, and develop human potential.”

“Organization development and I/O psychology share core principles of positivity and a concern for employee well-being,” said Dr. Margaret Brooks, associate professor of management. “The disciplines bring together unique strengths as well. OD is an applied field with professionals who excel at understanding the big picture and putting systems and structure in place to facilitate real change. I/O psychology is particularly well-equipped to add value by assuring that a firm understanding of data and evidence-based deliberation underlies these practices. The DODC program will draw on these complementary strengths to provide a rich educational experience to serve these change leaders.”

In addition to an individual’s interest in the program, business or organizations involved in “succession planning” may wish to sponsor promising leaders for the DODC to leverage the skills and wisdom they can bring to successfully lead large-scale change, said Tom Daniels, associate director of the program and graduate recruitment coordinator for the College of Business. Organization development and change specialists work in a variety of professions and locations including executive leadership, strategy, public administration, urban planning, training and development, community development, industrial and organizational psychology and human resources.

“Bowling Green has always aimed to be on the leading edge,” Cady said. “Our Master of Organization Development was the first of its kind in the world, and BGSU has long been a recognized leader in the field of industrial/organizational psychology. We listened to our alumni about their needs and decided now is the right time to offer a program that allows working professionals to take their careers to the next level.

“Executive doctorate programs are becoming more popular with professionals who do not want to leave their careers to pursue full-time research Ph.D.’s.”

“The BGSU psychology and industrial/organizational psychology areas are excited to collaborate on this new degree partnership,” said Dr. Michael Zickar, psychology department chair. “We have a long history of working with the organization development faculty, and I see good things to come from this partnership. These executive degree students will come from management positions within their industries and will give us access to leadership and organizational data that will expand our knowledge,” he said.

The three-year, hybrid curriculum blends online courses and weekend residencies, with seven-week classes geared to working professionals. Participants will take one class at a time and move through the program with their cohort, a supportive community of fellow learners. All books, meals, reservations and other logistical details are taken care of by the program.

In addition to the coursework, an international study tour is part of the program, allowing participants to globalize their learning about common knowledge and collaborative change. Short-term visits to universities and organizations in South Africa and the Netherlands will provide insight into other cultures and perspectives while making new connections for participants.

Capping their studies, DODC students will conduct research and write a dissertation. But, Cady said, in a professional doctorate program, the dissertation differs from a Ph.D. thesis in that it is more focused on applied action research that translates theory into practice. It provides a solution to a community or business problem in a usable way. It also helps authors build a distinctive brand as they prepare to change or widen their careers and advance their own subject matter expertise.

An important part of the College of Business’s philosophy is providing students, from undergraduate to graduate, the support and resources they need to translate what they learn into a job that fits their passion and interests. Students in the new doctorate program will utilize the Executive Career Accelerator. Led by Tom Siebenaler, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the field and business connections across the country, the career coaching program first helps participants identify their goals and build a plan for achieving them, then proceeds through tangible steps toward reaching that goal. The program is specifically designed for executive-level support that will leverage the doctoral degree to achieve their next-step career goals.

“We provide hands-on, individualized support and a path for each executive student,” Siebenaler said. “These students are venturing into the next phase of their career, so we want to stand alongside them and give them the best information and support necessary to confidently move forward.”

Another advantage of the program is that all College of Business students have access to a special private intranet loaded with information about everything from job trends, salaries and Bureau of Labor Statistics data to relevant conferences and industry connections they can call upon.

Effecting large-scale change can feel like the proverbial turning a battleship without the necessary skills. DODC graduates are prepared and equipped by robust coursework that provides the frameworks for approaching and leading change in a manageable way, Cady said. Course topics include techniques for defining the problem, fostering collaborative and participatory change, leading complex change initiatives, decision-making in changing environments, coaching and developing talent, motivation and morale and intervention design and implementation.

“Our program will produce highly accomplished professionals who confidently lead in creating impactful solutions to complex challenges," Cady said.