Learners should realize that theories (or concepts) provide the essential framework for all business research, including research conducted in fulfillment of requirements for both the DBA and PhD. All successful doctoral dissertations are grounded in good theory and evidence. The PhD is not a “theoretical” degree devoid of empirical evidence, and the DBA is not a “practical” degree devoid of theory. Rather, both degrees are grounded in the management literature and evidentiary support. You do not get out of theory or the rules of evidence simply by choosing one or the other academic degree.
The essential difference between the DBA and PhD in business administration is that the former focuses on the application of theory rather than on the development of new theory. Because business administrators are in constant search for better concepts and methods for conducting enterprise, PhD candidates can always find new topics for basic research. Likewise, while it is true that a general theory of management has yet to emerge, it does not mean that candidate theories are not out there. Thus, DBA learners can always find research problems where the application of existing concepts and methods might prevail to solve business problems.
Both, the DBA and PhD in business administration are about good theory and evidence – in other words, scholarship.