Step in to Summer School

When I read about the Grenoble Ecole de Management Summer School, I wasn’t sure I could attend. Perhaps it was too early in my DBA journey given I was only half way through year two and had no written papers of my own to review or submit yet.  

My experience of the British Academy of Management conference

And, I confess, I had already taken a first step outside of my cohort world and signed up for a 1-day Doctorate of Busniess Administration symposium run by BAM in May, this time at Henley Management Centre in the UK. Surely, that would be enough. In fact, that symposium did turn out to be a very good first-step event for me—it reminded me there are others, not just our own GEM cohorts, who have embarked on DBA journeys! In that case, about 30 international students took part in round-table discussions and critiqued papers submitted by students from years three and four. There were also about 20 professors and program leaders who debated the opportunities and challenges of DBA research and the importance of retaining academic rigor whilst maintaining practical relevance. It was a very good day and a very useful opportunity to make new contacts and be inspired by other DBA students. I was happy to have taken this small step and spent time with others who are going through the DBA journey. And, importantly, I found I wanted more, and so I turned again to GEM.

The Grenoble Ecole de Management excellence Summer School

My application to attend the Grenoble Ecole de Management Summer School was helped, I think, by the fact I had my research question, early literature review, and pilot research approach already approved and had conducted the interviews for my pilot study and had transcripts available, and I was already playing with the by now infamous Atlas.ti (v8). Having done this gave me confidence that the timing of the Summer School presented a great opportunity for me not only to listen and learn but also to contribute.  And, hopefully, it gave the professors confidence I wasn’t just looking for relief from my self-employed freelance major program management, my other ‘habitus’;  though, it has to be said the sunny mountains, great food, and company I found in Grenoble are always an irresistible draw to any of the school’s modules and programs! In the case of the Grenoble Ecole de Management Summer School, at that time, the program was comprised of three components. First, a pre-read package of paper presentations submitted by the more advanced and ready students from several GEM cohorts and locations. Then came the main 3-day event in Grenoble: a packed agenda and whistle-stop tour of presentations and paper critiques, with an in depth exploration of Atlas-ti. Last but not least, interspersed across the program was social time outside of the classroom discussing and reflecting in a more informal and relaxed setting with faculty and fellow students. GEM’s confirmation of my acceptance to the Summer School was therefore a delight!

A key step in the DBA journey

The first day was exciting, but it was also somewhat daunting to hear about the effort that goes into preparing papers, some for conferences and others for journal submission. The professors’ feedback on the submitted papers was useful not only to each individual on their qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods papers (examples of each were reviewed) but also to those of us who hadn’t submitted. The professors gave further pointers on how to prepare and what to do/what not to do, and they reminded us about ethical considerations and also triggered fundamental methodological reflections, too. The subsequent days, which covered Atlas.ti, were excellent, too; we received not only the basics but also hints and tips on more advanced features. Practical exercises helped reinforce understanding, as did sharing the experience with fellow Summer School students. When else would we be able to meet students from different cohorts and locations, not to mention different nationalities and backgrounds, and all at slightly different stages with our DBAs?

Overall, the Summer School provided a great learning event and was a very useful step on the DBA journey. It helped nudge my own approach and provided an opportunity for vicarious learning, too. It emphasized the challenges of working towards publishing, but it also highlighted the benefits of attending conferences and symposia. The last so much so, I have signed up for another one (BAM’s DBA symposium at Warwick, UK, in September).

A nice time spent with other DBA candidates 

Talking of the DBA journey, while we were in Grenoble for the Summer School, there was a viva defense, and we were able to share in the relief, delight, and celebration of another one of GEM’s students, who was thankful and delighted to receive confirmation they had succeeded on their journey!

As usual, I left Grenoble—as I always have—proud to be with Grenoble Ecole de Management, happy to have spent quality time with fellow students and faculty, and increasingly confident, having taken another solid step on the Doctorate of Business Administration journey.

Thanks again to fellow students, professors, and faculty who have helped make the GEM Summer School a great success!

by Philip Benson, Grenoble Ecole de Management, Doctorate of Business Admnistration student



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