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Path to a Doctoral Dissertation

Writing a doctoral dissertation is a challenge as it has to meet the highest standards of scientific research. It is a challenge because to break new scientific ground, a candidate first needs to cover the ground that the community of scholars has already discovered, which is no easy feat, to then move into, explore, and chart the unknown. Yet it is a rewarding challenge that can be a launchpad for new career opportunities, not only in academia.


Estimating the effort. We need to set expectations right. We assume that it will take a minimum of 6 semesters or 450 man-days to write a dissertation at our institute (it is almost impossible to compare it to the effort needed for a Master’s thesis). This means that you, as an internal (or external) doctoral candidate, will be a (virtual) member of our team for around 3 years. At least.

As we offer intensive support, cooperation, and guidance, we also demand commitment and dedication. Getting a Ph.D. is no easy feat and has to be that way!


Choosing the Topic. If you think of the doctoral journey as an apprenticeship and ask us to train you at our institute, you’ll understand that good training cannot be on topics on which we are no experts. Put simply, you can only study at our institute topics that are anchored to our current research agenda. The topics in which our expertise lays and where we can offer useful guidance are creativity, innovation, and leadership. These are broad topics, indeed, which let you still find a productive ground for yourself.


Knowing the Dissertation format. We expect candidates to write up a cumulative dissertation, which means that the dissertation will be made of at least three scientific articles, each of which has to make one contribution to the scholarly community. The thesis, once complete, is evaluated based on the guidelines for cumulative dissertation theses in the area of business administration.


Getting Started. The Procedure. The starting point of the application process is a 20-page research proposal that includes the following components:

  • Introduction. It motivates why such study matters, introducing the research gaps, the aim of the study, expected results, structure of the paper).
  • Theory. State of the field in theoretical and empirical research (theories, empirical results, and research gaps relevant to your study).
  • Methods. Empirical or conceptual strategy and suggested methods.
  • Outline. Outline of the research project, and suggested division of papers.
  • Project plan. Objectives, stages & activities, methods, estimated man-days for each of the activities.

The research proposal can be submitted at any time.


Assessment criteria. We will select candidates whose dissertation proposal is promising to generate three excellent and impactful research papers, interesting for the top scientific journals. Therefore, our selection will be based on the candidate’s academic merit, the originality of the proposal, the quality of ideas, thinking, and writing. In particular, we will focus on the

  • Relevance and appeal of your topic
  • Its embeddedness in the Institute’s research agenda
  • Processing of existing empirical and theoretical research results
  • Clarity of the scientific contributions
  • Fit between the methodological strategy and aims of the papers
  • Innovativeness of the work

In the next step, all scientific institute members comment on the research proposal. On this basis, either an invitation to a lecture or a rejection takes place.


Assessment Lecture

In the run-up to the semester-wide dissertation seminar, an optimized concept of the shortlisted candidates is to be presented and subsequently discussed. Here, candidates should show parsimony and focus in their argumentation, capacity to handle theoretical concepts that fit the empirical objectives, and the possibility of achieving the formulated expected results. In addition, an in-depth analysis of the theoretical and methodological competence of the candidates is possible. After an in-house discussion, either admission to the circle of doctoral candidates or rejection takes place.

If the dissertation is accepted for supervision, participation in the dissertation seminars (including lecture and discussion) is compulsory.


If you are convinced that getting a Ph.D. is what you want, then contact ipv@jku.at