Hi Scott and Lee,
It really depends what you want to do. If a company has a choice between someone who has spent six years researching for a doctorate and someone who has spent six years climbing the greasy pole of management there is no question which they will go for: the real world manager every time. Now, as Scott suggests, it is possible to get a research position / lecturership at university and move from there into management, but it's one of the harder ways of doing it - possibly the hardest. Companies will certainly employ university staff to bring research expertise to bear on specific 'technical' issues - we do it reguarly. And universties will proudly proclaim that they do this in order to win more work, given that this is where their money comes from. (I'm not complaining since I enjoy being wined and dined by them
) But from this route you are likely to be seen as not commercially aware, not able to see the 'bigger picture' of all the company issues and - the risk for all forms of consultancy - not willing to take responsibility for your actions and see them through to the end. This may or may not be true for any one individual, but it is a widespread concern about academia. Hence back to the original point, companies like people who've 'been there, done that'. There are also concerns about how relevant academic research is to industry, I love the following quote:
Management innovation is happening everywhere and at a breathtaking pace. Everywhere that is, except in academia. (Fendt & Kaminska-Labbe, 2011: 217)
In the end, as I think you've both identified, it's down to what you want to do. If you find the idea of doing a PhD / DBA interesting, and have the time and funds to do it, then fine: although beware that you may need to play 'catch up' to get management skills. If you're aim is to get into management (rather than to do research for it's own sake) then do an MBA.
Final thought: in my experience, from looking at managers I have worked with, the best time to carry out higher level management education is when you have about 10 years management experience, I'd say 5 years is a minimum. Any less than that and you will find it darn near impossible to put the education into context; and, as with any social science, context is what it is all about.
Fendt, J. & Kaminska-Labbe, R., (2011) 'Relevance and Creativity Through Design-Driven Action Research: Introducing Pragmatic Adequacy'
. European Management Journal, 29(3), 217-233.
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMIhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy
"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert