reply to Becker's note

Thu, 9 Jun 1994 10:18:10 CDT

Elizabeth Becker writes that one needs a Ph. D. just to have a say in what
research gets done (and how) in a consulting firm. This is far more common
as a reason to get the degree than you might think. There are also several
variations on this theme. For example, one man I know who had been doing
consulting work for years came back to finish his degree because his
clients were more likely to listen to him if he had the credentials after his
name. They'd still be getting the same recommendations, but they'd be more
willing to give them credence. It's called legitimation, I think.

Grad schools are seeing a lot more of this these days, and they respond to it
in various ways, depending on the grad school personnel (and where they got
their degrees and when). I had a heated discussion with a key person in our
graduate college, who sees the only legitimate reason for getting a Ph. D.
being to teach and do research. For my department to accept a student like
Elizabeth Becker would mean a major battle between our department and the
grad school. It means a POLICY change, a transformation in the world view
of the academy's gatekeepers. In some grad schools, this won't be any big
deal. In mine, it will be a bitter fight--one that we'll win, of course, but
I could do without that aggravation.

Mike Lieber