Inquiry-Focused Doctoral Curriculum

Through this doctoral program we seek to deepen our understanding of the practice of organizational change through rigorous cycles of inquiry in our work and sustained engagement with theory. Our aim is to support you in generating new insights in the field.


Program Details

Courses and Structure

The Hult Doctorate in Organizational Change PhD program is designed in three phases. A five-year taught element and a maximum registration period of seven years. Phases 1 and 2 are considered Master’s level and Phase 3 at Doctoral level. There are no awards at Master’s level.

Key outcomes

  • Create new tools for organizational change

  • Unearth seminal insights specific to your life and career

  • Gain academic recognition

  • Advance your career or transition into teaching or consulting

Phase 1

Inquiry Proposal

Develop your inquiry

The first phase provides you with the opportunity to engage with your proposed topic of inquiry through substantiating your initial Acceptance Paper and subsequently developing a full Inquiry Proposal.

Key program deliverable: Inquiry proposal

Workshop 1

Introduction to Action Research

The first workshop will provide an overview of the three phases of the DOC program as well as offering an opportunity to explore your background, your current work and emerging inquiries with each other. The intention of these conversations is for you to gain an appreciation of the resources available to each other as a peer learning community, and to begin to make connections.

Workshop 2

Ontological & Epistemological perspectives

Explore the nature of paradigms, different paradigms, inherent assumptions about what counts as valid 'knowing', and their impact on the nature of research that is deemed appropriate and valuable. In particular we will look at the ontological, epistemological and methodological stances that are deemed compatible with Action Research and other forms of qualitative research.

Skills Workshop

Academic Writing Skills

Examine a range of foundational writing practices that can support inquiry-led doctoral work and what habits and disciplines can help establish you as a doctoral researcher. We will explore assumptions about what constitutes good academic writing and how to avoid common faults and misapprehensions. We will explore how the ‘crisis of representation’ (Lather, 1997) in academia might be addressed by a more permissive and wider interpretation of the different genres that are allowable in doctoral writing.

Workshop 3

Methodological Perspectives

Explore various methods within the qualitative research paradigm and examine action research as a participative, action-oriented methodology, grounded in experience. We will discuss different perspectives on quality and validity in qualitative research. The group will agree on its intentions for supporting and challenging one another through the short phase including the circulation of draft papers and subsequent meetings. By the end of the three days you are expected to have with a clear action plan for exploring theoretical, methodological and action research issues, in order to substantiate your Inquiry Proposal.

Virtual Components

Self-directed Learning

There are two virtual components in Phase 1, which participants are required to complete on a self-directed learning basis. Despite the requirement to complete these two virtual components in Phase 1, all content will continue to be made available to participants for the entire duration of the program, so that they can return at a later stage in their doctoral journey if they so wish.


Inquiry Proposal

A 3,000 word “Personal Statement” as part of the entry requirements for the program. During Phase 1, it will be important for you to clarify and prioritise your reading and research on the aspects of these criteria which seem most critical, incorporating feedback on the Acceptance Paper.

A subsequent 8,000 word “Inquiry Proposal”, as set out below. The Inquiry Proposal will incorporate learning from the submission of your Acceptance Paper, as well as feedback gathered during the first workshop and subsequent meetings of your supervision group.

Phase 2

Workshop 4

Presentational & Visual Methods

This workshop will focus on the practical possibilities of a range of presentational forms in action inquiry. Within an extended epistemology, as explored in the previous workshop, you will be encouraged to notice the importance of ‘presentational knowing’ as a significant aspect of your inquiry. You will be invited to consider ‘what counts’, and how such data/capta1 can be effectively represented at an individual, group and societal level.

Workshop 5

Developing & Appreciating Reflexive Inquiry

The workshop will review issues of ontology and epistemology, and further inform appropriate methodological selections. Informed by our developing inquiries, we will encourage critique of appropriate fields such as grounded theory, ethnography, auto ethnography, hermeneutics, critical theory, post modernism, discourse analysis, feminism, etc.

Workshop 6

Advanced Writing Skills

explore and cultivate the advanced skills needed to write a reflexive, practice-based doctoral thesis. The workshop will include some time for writing and peer review in session as well as exploration of your emerging ‘voice’ as a writer and researcher.

Workshop 7

Participant-Led Workshops

This phase marks a shift from faculty led to participant led workshops, providing you with an opportunity to collaborate on workshop design, with support from faculty but ultimately taking responsibility for both content and process. The workshops are intended to be inquiry processes in themselves, and your design needs to reflect your growing awareness of inquiry methodology and method. Every participant will be expected to lead some part of a workshop. We will expect you to illustrate how you see your inquiries potentially contributing to knowledge in the field of change in people, organizations and/or communities.


Transfer Paper

Establish a rigorous basis for your inquiry and submit a 20,000 word transfer paper at the end of this phase. The transfer paper can be incorporated into your final thesis.
You be invited to speak about your work at a Transfer vive voce assessment. You will need to demonstrate sufficient progress across the broad field of your study (theoretically, methodologically, practically) in a way that shows the possibility of new insights emerging.

Phase 3

Thesis Preparation

Virtual Hosted Conversations

This could include conversations with faculty (as experts), an alumni speaking to their work, a stage 4 candidate writing up their work or an active member of our action research community to convene and stimulate a timely and topical conversation for our current students. Faculty will host a series of virtual conversations in response to the emerging cohort need/interest in a variety of specialist areas of action research.

Workshop 9

Participant-Led Workshop

Participant led workshops should enable and encourage you to present your emerging themes and propositions to the rest of the community. This should be done in a manner that is congruent with the material, and as a further ‘cycle of inquiry’. You will then be expected to explain how this particular cycle of inquiry is located within a methodological research paradigm.

Workshop 10

Industry Days & Research Camp

The purpose of these activities is both to speak academically and professionally of your inquiry and invite meaningful conversations which avidly stimulate the industry practitioner's mindset and openly hear and receive their thoughts on your work.

Workshop 11

Participant-Led Workshop

Participant led workshops should enable and encourage you to present your emerging themes and propositions to the rest of the community. This should be done in a manner that is congruent with the material, and as a further ‘cycle of inquiry’. You will then be expected to explain how this particular cycle of inquiry is located within a methodological research paradigm.

Workshop 12


In Workshop 12, you will showcase your work to the EDOC community of peers at Ashridge. This offers a wonderful opportunity to have your work heard and discussed by your senior and junior EDOC contemporaries and community. This will be an annual event and you will be welcome to join other cohorts as they present their work. We will expect you to clearly articulate your work in progress to your peers and demonstrate how you are potentially contributing to knowledge in the field of change in people, organizations and/or communities and utilize the feedback to enhance or modify your inquiry, along with the input of your supervisor.


Dissertation Writing

During the writing up part of your dissertation individual supervision continues, in order to help inform on how you organise your work and its continuous review in preparation for the submission of an 80,000-word dissertation. You will be asked to complete a bi-annual one page progress report, which you will complete along with your supervisor. This will be submitted to the Program Manager and Academic Director. If two progress reports indicate an unsatisfactory status to your studies, your case can be referred to an academic review committee which will assess the next steps to ensure a progression plan can be put in place with appropriate milestones for improvement.


Dissertation Defence

A specialist external examiner, together with an internal examiner who has not been your supervisor, will assess your Dissertation on research rigour and unique contribution to knowledge in the field of organization change.

The Dissertation is assessed as a two-part Final Examination, each part of which must be passed:

The Dissertation document itself, which must be deemed to be of doctoral standard and

The presentation and viva voce examination, which must be deemed to be of doctoral standard

Meet the Deans and Faculty

Faculty at Hult teach and help students apply tools and theories to solve major, contemporary business problems. The faculty selected to teach and supervise on the Doctorate in Organizational Change are award-winning researchers in both academic- and practitioner-related channels.

  • Dr. Dina Dommett, Dean of Faculty & Doctoral Programs
  • Dr. Kerrie Fleming, DOC Academic Director
  • Dr James Traeger, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr Steve Marshall, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr Amy Bradley, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr Katherine Semler, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr Margaret Gearty, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr. Geoff Mead, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr. Gill Coleman, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr. Kathleen King, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr. Nick Wildling, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr. Matt Gitsham, Faculty Supervisor
  • Dr. Josie Gregory, Faculty Supervisor

Download Brochure

Download a brochure for an in-depth look at Hult’s DOC program.

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Apply by 30th September 2023

There is still time to apply for January 2024. Writing your personal statement is the best place to start. Talk to our admissions officer, Caroline Monfort, for more details.