Dave’s Doctoral Research

Doctor DaveDave earned his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree from Golden Gate University’s Ageno School of Business in 2010. His research focused on developing and testing a model to explain the strategy-making process in financial planning. His Financial Planning Strategy ModesSM (FPSM) Model can be used both to assess the relative balance in skills and application by a financial planner and to prescribe corrective action to improve the planner’s strategy-making effectiveness.

About Dave’s Dissertation
Title: “Finding the Planning in Financial Planning: An Integrative Framework for Strategy-Making by Financial Planners.”
Dissertation Committee Chair:
Dr. Paul Fouts, Dean, Ageno School of Business
Dissertation Committee Readers:
Dr. Kerry Curtis, Golden Gate University
Dr. Somnath Basu, California Lutheran University

About the DBA Degree
The National Science Foundation classifies the DBA as a research doctorate equivalent to the PhD. While one will normally take a number of doctoral seminars and other coursework in pursuit of the DBA, the key assessment points are as follows:

  • Qualifying Exam
  • Field Exam
  • Dissertation Proposal
  • Defense
  • And, finally, those three precious signatures from your dissertation committee

Here’s how the Association of Business Schools compares the PhD and DBA:

  • The DBA is therefore a professional practice doctorate and is concerned with researching real business and managerial issues via the critical review and systematic application of appropriate theories and research to professional practice. This may be contrasted to the PhD which places more emphasis on the development of new knowledge and theoretical perspectives.
  • The DBA may often be interdisciplinary in approach and/or content.
  • It is further intended to provide opportunity for considerable personal development, such that the participant achieves a greater level of effectiveness as a professional practitioner or manager.
  • Whilst the DBA like the PhD may have a program of complementary studies, it is a student-driven degree, as its primary mode of assessment is through the production of a dissertation/thesis.
  • Notwithstanding the above difference in orientation, the DBA is a true Doctoral program designed to be equal in status and rigor to the PhD It should thus share the same position as the PhD in any national postgraduate typology.

How Dave Describes the Experience
I completed my doctorate at GGU and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. I was first drawn to the program because it was the only fully-accredited doctorate in finance in the Bay Area that could be pursued part-time by someone who also had a career. The experience proved to be so much more than that, however.. The full-time faculty who run the program are passionate about what they do, offering students the opportunity to engage in significant personal growth and deep learning. The faculty are also well suited to GGU’s mission, combining, as they do, first class academic credentials with significant leadership experience in the “real world.” There are two distinct phases to doctoral study and GGU’s program delivers the best of both. The first phase is focused on core doctoral seminars that provide the tools and conceptual framework for understanding and conducting formal research. It was here that I came to fully appreciate the nature of the academic enterprise and begin to master the tools and techniques for its pursuit. The second phase involves the development of a research question that will result (if you’re sufficiently diligent) in the production of a formal dissertation. This is the apprenticeship phase, where you work closely with your dissertation committee and, most especially, your chair. My own committee chair, Paul Fouts, was at once both guide and mentor, sending me back again-and-again to reexamine my sources, rewrite my proposals, and revisit the evidence. Each time, my dissertation got better. In the end, I was able to produce work that I believe will have a real impact on my profession. The doctoral program is probably the smallest part of what GGU does, but it represents the best of the University’s mission and values. Beyond that, I can heartily recommend GGU to anyone who seeks to improve their skills and advance their career through any of the University’s many degree and certificate programs.

Additional Resources


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson