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  1. PhD student who had a child in the 3rd year. In general, having a kid made me reassess my commitment to academia. I came in with the sole desire to be a research professor, but I left for industry after graduating. The flexible schedule was nice, but as others said, research can easily dominate your life. To a large degree, those who spend all their time thinking about research have a big leg up in this very competitive market. Carving out time for work and protecting family time is key, though, to keeping your family happy. So it's a balancing act that will likely hurt your career prospects, all else equal. OB is arguably the most competitive B-School PhD field to land a TT job, so this matters more for you than for others (say in Finance or Accounting). IDK about your family's financial situation, but stipends usually mean that you are scraping by, potentially going on public assistance like the first responder mentioned. You also need to realize that your life will be very unstable for the next 10-15 years on a variety of financial, geographic, and other life dimensions until you either get tenure at a school or leave the profession. There's no in-between here, and progression is very much not linear like in a conventional career. It's a very tough road without a family, and with a family, it's even tougher. While your family might make the mental stress of a PhD a bit lighter, it will largely be because you don't have the luxury of dealing with academic stress. The existential stress of reviewer criticisms, not being able to publish, and not getting a job take a backseat to immediate financial pressures, negotiating family and work time with your spouse, and other things that keep your family unit functioning. My take is that, after two years of uncertainty pre-graduation, I wasn't willing to sacrifice stability any longer, especially since outside options pay roughly the same and largely consist of the same work. I graduated last year, and I am a data scientist in industry. While my work has a lot of boring elements and I can't necessarily choose what I want to work on at all hours of the day, I couldn't be happier with the stability my family has. I also found academia wasn't all that it's cracked up to be. It's glacially slow, the daily work can be very boring and frustrating, and most of my peers and the tenured/tenure track professors in the department didn't enjoy their jobs nearly as much as you might think. There's a "sunk cost" mentality in academia, where people invest a lot into this career, realize they don't like it, but feel like they invested too much time, are too specialized, or too risk averse to leave. That's a recipe for disillusionment, so make sure you are wildly passionate about research before entering. Given that you have a kid already, you probably have thought these cons through, but I wanted to provide an alternate opinion. Good luck!
  2. Hi OP. I'm a 5th year PhD in Management at a competitive program. I generally agree with BCB. You need to enter (or quickly develop) a passion for research to have the PhD make any sense in your career. If you get bad feelings about this path after your first few years, take the masters and leave. The only reason to get a PhD is that you can't see yourself doing anything other than research for the rest of your life. Going in because you like teaching and don't like corporate work is a recipe for a bad outcome. I cannot emphasize enough the fact that research academia is structured unlike any other career, mostly in ways that are not attractive. It is a long, random, and risky game. It is the complete opposite of teaching and corporate, which emphasize relatively quick projects, have direct connections between input --> output, and are generally stable from the day you enter the career to the day you retire (with some exceptions like consulting). Yes, it gives you that autonomy from your boss that you seem to crave. I don't have scheduled hours, and I don't have to be in the office (but that's a lot of people nowadays, so it's kind of a moot point). During that time, I am expected to produce output equivalent to 50-60 hours of work a week, and to be successful, you will constantly think about every possible way that your research could be criticized by your peers. It's an entirely different lifestyle. Consider these issues: in research academia, you could work for several years on a project until you realize that you won't be able to publish the findings in a paper, either because you have been "scooped" by someone who published the same idea before you or because you aren't able to collect enough data to run meaningful analyses in the eyes of reviewers. Apart from potential use in other projects, those years would largely be a waste. You may end up in a department with an advisor who is absent or generally unhelpful (this happens to a LOT of people and makes your PhD a LOT harder compared to those with awesome advisors). You may end up not meeting the publication/R&R bar needed to get a tenure track job, which is increasing year after year. Since I entered, the prospects for graduating PhDs in academia have gotten slowly and uniformly worse, and I don't see that changing in the next 10 years. The trend at top schools is to take an unfunded (zero stipend) 6th year before going on the market. By the time you graduate, that may be the norm everywhere for those interested in academic jobs. The tenure bar at most places is high, and most pre-tenure academics expect to move at least once after their first job. So home buying and putting down roots is delayed. Speaking as someone in this system who has experienced major setbacks, you will run into at least one of these major setbacks during your PhD or pre-tenure years, and it will wreck your emotional state. In general, your work is only your work, so there's no meaningful work team to blame or lean on when times get tough. You wonder why you are giving up tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in lost income. Day to day, things move so slowly that it can feel like you are spinning your wheels alone in your office. A paper I worked on in undergrad is finally being published in an A-level management journal. I started working on it 6 years ago, and it was only rejected from 1 journal prior to finding its home. 6 years. That's 20% of a 30 year career spent thinking about a project during most of your waking hours. It's ridiculous. In the end, you have to LOVE research to put up with the downsides. For most people, the level of autonomy is nice, but very much not worth the tradeoff.
  3. Spoken like someone who is an applicant. Don't worry, I have yet to meet a PhD holder who was not totally broken down by the system. Almost all of them build themselves back up and emerge stronger, but they never are flippant about the process because they know the depths to which they sank. If you end up getting admitted, you'll see :)
  4. Strategy is mostly economics and sociology and is focused on explaining firm performance from 30,000 feet. While Strategy is often less quantitatively rigorous on the sociology side, it can also be very quantitatively oriented and indistinguishable from economics. So it's a mixed bag. Decision Sciences is mostly psychology with a bit of microeconomic theory and is focused on understanding the processes behind how individual actors make decisions in an organizational context. These are two very different fields on average, but there is a very small amount of overlap. You need to do more homework by reaching out to current PhDs that you know, reading journals, and possibly RAing. This will help you define your interests even more.
  5. Most people find Year 3 to be the most mentally challenging time of their PhD. You are just starting to define your research agenda and projects, but the pace is slow and the feedback is almost always negative. Around this point, PhDs begin to question their ability to write a dissertation, become an academic, or even do useful work in general. Below is advice I wish I would have gotten prior to my (very rough) 3rd year in a Management (Macro) PhD program. You'll soon see that writing a paper is just your small contribution to a conversation that the rest of the field is having, nothing more and nothing less. Thus, you need to be (1) interested in the topic of conversation and (2) understand how the rest of the field discusses topics and is expecting the conversation to evolve. Most PhDs with bad advisors don't fully understand the critical importance of point (2). The current state of our field is built by a complex social process of egos, ideas, and tradition which is unlike any other industry. You can easily see this in the field's large amount of conventions that would be obscure, counterintuitive, or bizarre to laypeople and even other academics. For most people, it takes a year or two to figure out how to come up with ideas faculty will find interesting, how to write papers are written to appeal to reviewers, how topics evolve in a predictable way, etc. Don't be hard on yourself when it takes you a while to figure this out. Around the middle of year 4, assess if you meet both criteria (1) and (2). For example, you may realize that you like what you research but learn that you find the entire writing, review, and publication process glacially slow, overly focused on almost useless theory, beholden to fads, reliant on bad science, and that you've made no meaningful contribution when all is said and done. If you (1) lose the fire for topics of interest or (2) realize that you don't like the often dysfunctional academic production function, you should ask yourself whether you want to do research academia for the next 40 years. The job essentially doesn't change as you get more senior-- you just do a bit more teaching and service. If you aren't energized by (1) and (2), it can be a miserable life. There are many tenured professors in this position. If you fall into this camp, start looking at adjacent industry jobs, which would almost certainly be a better fit, allow more mobility, give you more locational flexibility, and often have relatively higher pay once you get five years out of your PhD. Industry has other issues (e.g., less autonomy, less temporal flexibility, less pure intellectual engagement), but in the long run, you'll almost always be judged on your current skills, ability to learn, ability to work well in a team, and by what you can produce. Make sure to find the best fit for you (and your loved ones!).
  6. As an outside observer of this site straddling management and economics, I thought I would post this here. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/bolotnyy/files/bbb_mentalhealth_paper.pdf PhDs are immensely stressful and isolating. A recent study (linked above) shows that Econ PhDs at top schools are about as mentally distressed as incarcerated people and as lonely as retirees. The collective economics profession is currently going through serious soul-searching on mental health in light of recent tragic events at Harvard, Princeton, and other schools (quick google searches can provide more information). Our profession is incredibly hard, both mentally and emotionally. Unless you are steeped in an academic research environment from a young age, you often don't fully understand the rigors and challenges of research academia until you enter a PhD. As PhDs and faculty, we often tie up too much of our identity in peer recognition of our work or our status in the field. In many cases, the norms of academia lead us to be inappropriately confrontational and coarse in interacting with our peers and their work. This environment is intensely personal but often does not promote the idea that each person has intrinsic self-worth. This has to change now. We are living in extraordinary times due to COVID. Check on your cohort-mates, colleagues, and friends in academia. A little kindness goes a long way. You never know when an interaction with them will be your last.
  7. As usual, XanthusAres hits it on the nose. Here's another perspective. A PhD program is not like med school-- people don't simply get admitted, work really hard in school, graduate, work really hard in residency, and become an attending physician. I would imagine, conditional on graduating med school, that at least 85% of MDs in the workforce are doctors in some form or fashion. There is a strong system of matching demand and supply that is mandated from top-down in the field. PhD programs oversupply the academic market with smart, hardworking graduates, meaning that there is not a 1-to-1 match between demand for professors and supply of students. The number of PhD program spots, for example, is not set by the Academy of Management like the number of medical school spots and residency spots are set by the American Medical Association. Many schools take on more PhDs than the market demands since PhD students are cheap substitutes for tenured research and teaching roles (other PhD fields, like English, are much worse on this dimension). Assuming you like what you research, the number one determinant of career success as a grad student is working with an engaged advisor who can mentor you to become socialized in the field and learn how to navigate the social and political nature of publishing. Professors' roles as advisors are also not strongly incentivized by administration, so advisor quality varies wildly in practice. The toughest part is that it's incredibly hard for you as a PhD student to tell ex ante who will be an engaged advisor or what a truly engaged advisor even looks like in the first place. Many will be nice people who will be totally disengaged with your development as a scholar. Again, ask current students to see which advisors push their students to develop. The end result is that PhDs lead to wildly disparate (and often random) outcomes for their students. Across strategy/OB programs, I'd estimate that about 20%-30% of starting students don't finish, and 20%-30% of graduating students won't go into academia. This means about 30%-50% of people who enter never attain an upper-middle class professor job. You will learn a *lot* on the journey, which may make a PhD worth it in and of itself, but the academic job market is a total gong show. Schools know that they have the upper hand, get a good deal from having all of those PhD students working teaching and research assistant roles, and don't have to disclose industry placements on their websites. They have no incentive to balance the playing field or making the system clearer or simpler for graduates, and I anticipate this will not change.
  8. Good point about the "delay". We definitely saw a delay following 2008, and I think the lag caught many folks off guard. I'm not sure about pent up demand. I think it's much more likely that we'll develop pent up supply (to a lesser degree, like every other field in academia). Academia is particularly good at creating cheap, temporary ways to allow PhDs to continue on their quest for TT jobs. Many (if not most) students in STR/OB are taking a 6th year, often unpaid, which is financially the best way for universities to preserve staff dedicated to maintain research output. Post-docs are a "second best", since you need to pay them a little more than PhDs, yet post-docs are usually about 1/3 the cost of TT profs with about the same research ability. Schools generally are wary of decreasing PhD spots, since it looks like a bad quality signal for the program, so incoming PhD supply will probably stay pretty constant. I wouldn't anticipate a mad rush of people to MBAs, so faculty hiring probably won't be especially robust. The 'Flight To Quality' In The MBA Market. On the bright side, growing interest in specialized programs may increase faculty hiring in certain non-management fields (finance: risk management, operations: data science, etc.). Once economic conditions improve, universities will have little financial incentive to get rid of post-doc positions, the 6th year trend, etc., leading to a larger supply in long-run equilibrium. Yes, some folks will "wise up" and leave for more stable pastures in industry. If other PhD fields are an indication, however, this reality will likely lead to more folks competing for about the same number of TT jobs year over year, leading to a "ratchet effect".
  9. See the job market thread a few threads back for a baseline. I think things likely will get tougher to some (unknowable) degree, at least in STR/OB. In general, the job market process is not at all transparent, so it's tough to provide any sort of prediction interval on how much harder it will be. From my experience, I'd estimate that 1/4 to 1/3 of graduating Management PhD students do not take TT Assistant Prof jobs (out of choice, due to being uncompetitive, or most likely, some combination of the two). This fact isn't publicized by schools for obvious reasons. You should anticipate this being the baseline environment for the foreseeable future. For comparison, it seems like the 2008 recession acted as a "ratchet" in many schools; administrators found "fat" to cut from school budgets and haven't added it back since. I imagine the same thing, on average and probably to a lesser degree, will happen here too. Outside of maintaining a certain percent of scholarly professors for AACSB credentials, there's no hard requirement stopping admins from replacing tenure track researchers with an adjunct who does 3x the teaching work for 1/3 of the price.
  10. Welp... looks like the academic market this coming year may be rough sledding :dejected: Incomplete/Unofficial/ Unconfirmed List of Schools That Have Announced Hiring Freezes or Pauses, Professor Is In - Google Docs
  11. I have experience with management (Strategy/OB) and Econ fields. I think that self-studying (or getting immersed in the management literature) is not too hard, but the opaque, balkanized nature of management academia makes it hard to find relevant resources...much harder than economics programs, which make all PhDs take the same first year core courses and essentially have the same syllabi. If you want to self-study Strategy, take a look at the topics mentioned in the second paragraph on this page, take a look at the editorial boards of SMJ, AMJ, and Organization Science to find the big-shots of the field, see what topics they study, find matches with your interests, and see if you can find syllabi from these faculties' PhD courses on their websites. You can also find a lot of high-level Strategy faculty and readings in the PDF file here. Read these papers, start thinking of related research questions, and you can effectively self-study the first two years of a Strategy PhD program. However, you should understand that your highest ROI activity is to RA for Strategy professors and make high-status connections with faculty that will be recognized across the field. This advice may sound opportunistic and a little unsavory, but it is realistically the most important advice you need to take at all stages of an academic career, especially when just starting off. Why is self-studying Strategy harder than self-studying economics? Compared to Strategy, microeconomics has a more unified theoretical core starting from preference axioms and building out to welfare theorems, etc. Much of this development was done through formal (mathematical) theory. While economists can relax these axioms and assumptions, everyone is essentially starting from the same beliefs and theories about how preferences are formed, how ideal markets operate, and how individuals should behave on average. In short, you can throw a bunch of microeconomists studying topics from health to development to education in one room, and they'll all be speaking "dialects" of the same language. From my experience, Strategy is more like a set of topical "tribes" that have organically grown distant from each other as professors train graduate students to specialize in answering questions that become narrower as time progresses. There's a networks tribe, an institutional economics tribe, etc. While this process of specialization happens in most fields, each of these Strategy tribes has its own theoretical starting points, which are different, non-overlapping blends of economics, sociology, social psychology, and management theory. In contrast to economics, these other disciplines do not use much mathematical theory; social psych has developed thousands of branching theories mostly through lab experimentation, while sociology has tended to develop dense verbal theory with frequent citations to the founders of their field. Management theory is separate from these disciplines, but it often draws ideas from them, is mostly verbal, and is more focused around workplace phenomena. The upshot is that these disciplines have very different ways of developing core knowledge, which leads to the creation of "different languages" among Strategy tribes based on your topical interests. In practice, this divergence in theoretical starting points has led to Strategy departments becoming balkanized into different topical tribes that makes it difficult to determine what the "core" of Strategy academia looks like to an outsider. Strategy scholars who give research presentations in other Strategy departments can often only be fully understood by those in their same tribe. For example, Stanford's group of management scholars was historically focused on Organization Theory (which is sociology + management), while UChicago was a strong Networks and Economic Sociology group (which blend sociology + economics + management). At a high level, most of these topical tribes classify themselves as either more management focused (e.g., Wharton, NYU) or discipline focused (e.g., Northwestern MEDS in econ). You can usually tell which program is which based on where the faculty got their PhDs; if you see a high degree of faculty with Econ/Soc PhDs, you're likely in a discipline focused school, and vice-versa.
  12. I know many tenured professors who hate the post-tenure admin work with a passion, still feel wildly overworked in their quest for Full Professor status, and who begin to doubt that their publishing is making any impact compared to a counterfactual private sector job. Many also experience "salary inversion" such that new Assistant Professors are paid more than them. Why Are Associate Professors Some of the Unhappiest People in Academe? - The Chronicle of Higher Education While it can be "sick" in that it's tough to be fired, you get a nice salary for life, etc., it really depends on the person and situation. Like anything in life, you need to work hard, play to your strengths and interests, catch a few lucky breaks, and always be grateful for what you have!
  13. Agreed. Reference letters are wildly important. The field is super small, so rightly or wrongly, being associated with high status folks goes a lot farther than you may think. When I was in my STR/OB PhD, the faculty would sometimes create summaries for the top applicant profiles and send them to the department. In all cases, over the span of many years, the summaries always mentioned letter writers by name. On average, the more well-known the letter writers were, the higher the letter writers' names were listed in the summary.
  14. +1 on this response. It's mostly a function of the market getting tougher over the past 5-10 years. My guess is that, in 5-10 years, 50+% of new STR/OB PhD grads will be doing postdocs.
  15. This poster is 100% spot on, even down to the degree of not knowing exactly how many schools have openings and how many schools opt "not to hire" across multiple years. It's incredibly agonizing for candidates since they don't know where they stand at any point. I'm not sure why we don't have a very detailed breakdown of supply/demand pressures (like the Econ market). The management job market is still a "smoky backroom deal" kind of environment, and the senior faculty by and large want to keep it that way.
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