Cahoon: Doctoral education = oxygen for productivity and innovation

Royal Roads University President Allan Cahoon’s op-ed, “Doctoral education: oxygen for productivity and innovation” was published in Business in Vancouver Nov. 10.

Royal Roads’ Doctor of Social Sciences and forthcoming Doctor of Business Administration combine the strengths of the professional doctorate with the research value and rigor of the traditional PhD program, he says. Such programs can fuel the Canadian economy with business and social innovation practices, and provide enough oxygen to ignite ideas of leaders engaged in their professional practice.

Here is an excerpt from the op-ed:

"Most ambitious people I know have at least one long-standing creative idea or innovative notion languishing in their bottom drawer. Faced with daily operational responsibilities, their biggest obstacle is finding the time, the team or the avenue to supply oxygen to ignite that spark of an idea.

For many, the idea incubator has been a traditional PhD program. For decades, now mythologized by contemporary students, the PhD was a direct line to discovery and tenure-track teaching and research careers. But for increasing numbers of students equally as bright as their predecessors, the PhD track has been a long road to a professional dead end. In 2011, Statistics Canada reported that only 18.6% of PhDs were employed as full-time university professors.

Recent criticism of doctoral education from non-academic employers targets the narrow focus of student research and the lightweight calibre of practical, professional skills among some fresh PhDs. On the student side, frustrated graduates point to diminishing returns in and outside the academic labour market and the opportunity cost of four to eight years of intensive research and study.

Professional degrees are increasingly essential to advancement as are traditional doctoral degrees to discipline-specific knowledge creation.

Doctoral research has long been seen as synonymous with a country’s achievement in research and development, innovation and productivity growth, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) sectors. However, in light of globalization and rapidly changing labour markets, we know that Canada’s true productivity bump will come from the connection between ideas and implementation.

Canada needs applied research that starts from and reflects that reality."

Read the entire article.