Davies, Julie (2016) DBA impact statements as self-research methods: PhD plus or practitioner frolic? In: Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies. Academic Conferences and Publishing International Ltd., pp. 91-98. ISBN 978-1-910810-94-1

This paper explores autoethnographic research methods based on a pilot content analysis of personal impact statements completed by students on the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA). In particular, the case studies illustrate the benefits and potential pitfalls of autoethnography (AE) as a tool to make sense of professional doctoral research journeys. We contribute by providing guidelines to inspire doctoral candidates, supervisors and examiners on how self-reflections in autoethnographies might be crafted in terms of choices relating to evocative, analytical and political forms. We also reflect on issues of stories well told, ethics for the story teller and epiphanies in being socialised into academic cultures as applied researchers with multiple identities in increasingly marketised organisations. The drama of personal adventures, vulnerabilities and crises in processes of self-discovery are offset by the intellectual transformation of individual researchers contributing to scholarship and organisational impact while using autoethnography to theorise their emotions to higher levels than expected in traditional PhDs.
First, we highlight the aims and types of autoethnographic outputs. Second, we consider the potential and pitfalls of autoethnographic approaches. Third, we investigate students’ experiences in crafting impact statements to complement their DBA theses and publishable articles. On the one hand, some view the mid-career professional doctoral student’s outputs in a practice doctorate as somehow inferior to the traditional PhD as some kind of personal frolic to enhance personal status. On the other hand, the DBA may be perceived as a ‘PhD plus’ that neatly combines theory and practice with a clear sense of organisational and personal impact. We call for greater appreciation of the value and risks inherent in autoethnography to complement more orthodox reflections on self-research in doctoral programmes. Finally, we recommend further research to understand the processes involved in autoethnographic research methods and how doctoral programmes expose professional doctoral candidates to think autoethnographically about and situate their approach within a business school context.

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