This paper will describe some lessons learned by two supervisors from Australia and four doctoral candidates from Singapore. The candidates, who were senior managers in workplace organisations, successfully completed their doctoral programs and solved significant business problems facing their organisations, over a four-year period. Despite various organisational and personal hurdles facing them the four candidates and their supervisors worked together as an e-forum based 'action learning set', and on occasions face to face, to motivate and support each other. The paper will describe how the program started and the trials and tribulations of the students as they inspired each other to complete and receive their doctorates simultaneously. It will also explain the model for action research based PhD programs they developed together through their research. A principal characteristic of this model is that both management and research outcomes are generated to the benefit of the organisation and the researcher. Based on their experience of the candidates and their supervisors, an improved doctoral program is now being offered by the supervisors' home Australian University. Two companies have been started - one in Singapore and one in Australia - to promote and execute this innovatively designed PhD to both organisations and individual students from both Singapore and Australia. The approach will be extended to other countries in the future. The structure of the program can be flexibly adjusted to the needs of an organisation and its managers.
Davies, AT, Dick, B, Sankaran, S, Gloster, M, Hase, S & Kwok R 2000, 'Problem-based learning with academic accreditation: a flexible postgraduate program for managers and practitioners using action research at the workplace', in J Lidstone & L Richardson (eds), Proceedings of Flexible learning for a flexible society : ASET/HERDSA Joint International Conference, Toowoomba, Qld., 2-5 July, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Qld.
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