Choosing a New Path "that has made all the difference"
Douglas Boyle, DBA, MBA, CPA, CMA
...topics involving ethics, governance and servant leadership become of particulary interest "given the carnage I directly witnessed during my career influenced by certain leaders lacking a grounded moral compass," behavior motivated by power and greed....
The career path of most academics is one of study and research while obtaining a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate degree. Douglas M. Boyle, DBA, CPA, CMA, did not follow the path most taken. His education led him to more than 25 years of professional experience in the areas of leadership, finance, operations, corporate governance, and business turnarounds. He has served in executive roles in start-up, middle market, and Fortune 500 companies where he has held the titles of Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Operations Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. Dr. Boyle has served on the board of directors of both public and private companies in the roles of chairman of the audit committee and member of the nominating, governance and compensation committees.
Just what drives a former CEO to give up his highly successful business career and start anew in the classroom? After spending more than 25 years in a rewarding professional career, Dr. Boyle says he, “felt that I wanted to give back and make a difference. I found myself drawn to teaching and began serving as an adjunct at several institutions at night while still working as an executive. I was immediately hooked by the sense of satisfaction that I received when working with students and sharing what I had learned. I was ready to make a huge career change.”
Dr. Boyle’s career had taken him all over the country requiring him to move more than 10 times. After reflecting upon his life growing up in Scranton where he had the fondest memories of attending and graduating from The University of Scranton, it became crystal clear what he wanted to do with the rest of his career. He decided to begin the path of migrating back to his roots and the university that played such a major role in molding him as a person.
This transition was most challenging given that the life of an executive is very different from that of one just beginning to work on completing a doctorate degree. He was accustomed to leading large organizations with significant resources. The path he was about to take did not afford him with many of those same advantages. In many ways it was like starting over, however, the skills and traits that he developed as an executive proved to be invaluable. The approach he took was to be fully engaged in learning and to be humble. This approach was modeled after the concept of magis described in the University’s mission as “a restless pursuit of excellence grounded in gratitude.” He was most fortunate to have several outstanding mentors at the University to guide him on this journey including: Dean Michael Mensah, Ph.D., Brian Carpenter, Ph.D., and Daniel Mahoney, Ph.D. Their mentoring and willingness to help confirmed to him that he had made the right choice. In addition, the University was most supportive of him during this transition in many ways. He completed his doctorate in business administration in May 2012 from Kennesaw State University.
While Dr. Boyle first pursued a career in academia “based on a love for teaching,” he quickly found that he had an equal passion for performing and publishing research, particularly research that questioned the current way of thinking aimed at making a difference in the business world and the classroom. In addition, topics involving ethics, governance and servant leadership became of particular interest to him “given the carnage I directly witnessed during my career inflicted by certain leaders lacking a grounded moral compass,” behavior motivated by power and greed. Based on these research interests, he has 17 journal publications over the past few years.
An Ignatian Vision
The approach he takes to research may be somewhat different from the pure traditional method of business research whereby the researcher finds a gap (sometimes very narrow) in the existing literature, creates constructs and hypotheses based on theory, performs complex statistical analysis, and reports results. His research philosophy is grounded in the University’s vision of “transformational learning.” In order to achieve that type of learning it is often best not to be initially wedded and confined by current thought. Striving to implement this transformational philosophy, he first identifies a current, interesting, and important real problem in the business world that requires new thinking, insights and solutions. He follows the rigor and uses the tools found in the pure traditional method; however, his initial focus is different. Dr. Boyle says he is “not trying to extend a mere gap in the current way of thinking; I am attempting to create new ways of thinking.”
During this problem identification stage, he collaborates extensively with others both in academia and practice to refine the research question and build a research team. He fully believes that “research is a team sport and without a strong team pushing and challenging each other every step of the way, the ultimate outcome will not be transformational.” He has also found that an effective research team maximizes the complementary skills of each member which makes the process much more enjoyable. Each member of the team grows as an individual while the collaborative energy generates an ongoing stream of research projects.
Recent projects on which he has worked include: challenging several aspects of the current traditional model of doctoral accounting education; questioning and refining the predominate fraud model in business to shift toward a greater focus on individual rationalization and ethics; calling for the most powerful executives in a company, CEOs and CFOs, to be more accountable to a wide range of stakeholders and subject to ethics audits as a means to mitigate poor behaviors; and identifying how current goodwill impairment rules may not effectively reflect the reality of acquisition failures. His goal is to have his research widely read and ultimately to have a meaningful impact on the business world.
Most recently, Dr. Boyle has begun working on a research project aimed at utilizing theological and Jesuit ideology to help mitigate the rationalization of fraudulent behavior of CEOs. This project is being worked on by a team from the accounting department, Dr. Dan Mahoney and James Boyle, and Rev. Richard Malloy, S.J. vice president for University Mission and Ministry. This cross-campus collaborative approach should yield outstanding results and strengthen the University’s business program. He is also working on a project with Dr. Carpenter and James Boyle that investigates business student academic dishonesty from the perceptions of faculty based on elements of the fraud triangle. His hope is that both of these manuscripts will provide new ways for business leaders, faculty and students to think about and deal with fraud, moral development, and ethical issues.
Integrating his research in the classroom
In addition to making a difference in the business world, Dr. Boyle also attempts to bring his research into the master’s level courses that he teaches. He just finished a summer special topics course in current accounting research, whereby the research process is reviewed and the work of faculty and others is discussed. He has found that his students are more engaged when they discuss current research produced by their own faculty.
Dr. Boyle has been honored for his teaching and was awarded the Kania School of Management Teacher of The Year at the University of Scranton for 2009–2010 and 2011–2012. He also received the University of Scranton’s Provost Excellence in Research Award for 2012. He has received nationally recognized awards and grants for his research and publications.
Dr. Boyle is committed to his greater community. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Allied Services Health System. In addition to his role as Director, he serves on the Finance Committee and as Chairman of the Board for the Allied Services Skilled Nursing Division. He also consults as an executive coach and business turnaround expert.
In order to fulfill the call made by St. Ignatius Loyola to “set the world on fire,” Dr. Boyle says he “believes that engaging our faculty and students by bringing in current issues from the business world through research that challenges current paradigms is critical. Focusing on our mission and vision provides a robust framework for discussion and ultimately results in the creation of a competitive advantage for our business students.