Nowadays, we come across the term “responsible” almost on a daily basis – this might be in relation to the European Commission’s Responsible Research and Innovation approach, the international network on Responsible Research in Business and Management or in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But what does responsible mean for doctoral education?

The number of doctoral graduates worldwide has significantly increased over the last two decades (OECD, 2016) while at the same the time the value of a doctoral degree is questioned as e.g. The Economist states that ‘doing a PhD is often a waste of time’ (Dec. 2016). Hence, we have decided to set the upcoming EFMD Doctoral Programmes Conference* under the theme “Responsible Doctoral Programmes for a Responsible Future.”

According to the Oxford Dictionary, responsible can mean anything from having a job/duty to causing something to being reliable. For our conference, we would like to take a very broad view of responsible and incorporate multiple perspectives. It is about creating and providing doctoral education which firstly, offers a service to society and hence, develops graduates who are equipped with skills required by the job market and ready to contribute to academia and to society; secondly, enables individuals to thrive and experience the doctorate as a meaningful undertaking; and thirdly, values plurality and diversity in regards to research topics and methods, knowledge creation or collaboration in order to tackle wicked problems and challenges of your time.

At our conference, we will explore the aspects of responsible doctoral programmes based on the doctoral journey – starting at the end with entering the job market to finishing with the recruitment process: Professor Peter McKiernan, University of Strathclyde and co-founder of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative will kick off on Monday afternoon with a keynote on what responsible doctoral education really means and set the scene for the following two days. We will then focus on the end stages of the doctorate on Tuesday morning and a panel of experts (Prof Sylvia Frühwirth-Schnatter, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business; Dr Alexander Hasgall, European University Association Council for Doctoral Education; and Wilfred Mijnhardt, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University) will discuss how programmes align responsibly with a school’s purpose and mission, followed by an interactive session on how we prepare graduates to enter the job market. The interaction continues in the afternoon with two facilitated world cafes addressing common challenges during the doctorate: Engagement and Monitoring completion plans.

On Wednesday morning, representatives from institutions supporting the recruitment (ETS Global, FindaPhD and DocNet) of doctoral candidates present their views and data on trends in the recruitment process and what this means for the responsible doctoral programmes. We will then be introduced to the serious game Doctoral Quest developed by Grenoble Ecole de Management which supports future potential doctoral students in key decisions at the beginning of a doctorate. The conference will be closed with a keynote on Responsible Research and Innovation.

We are looking forward to three days of interaction, discussion and networking on highly relevant issues concerning the doctoral provision in business and management schools around the world. We appreciate the opportunity to develop, sustain and engage with our community of practice to set the agenda for responsible doctoral education. We hope to see you in Vienna in May 2020!

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with Dr Monique van Donzel, Conference co-Chair, Dr Christine Unterhitzenberger, Conference co-Chair or Jean-Alexis Spitz, EFMD.

* The conference will be taking place from 4 to 6 May 2020 at WU Vienna University of Economics and Business. Further details and registration can be found on the event webpage.