The Path to Evidence Based Management: Major Challenges and Some Solutions
Sara L. RynesEvidence-Based Management Conference University of Groningen November 7-8, 2011
What IS Evidence-basedManagement (EBM)?“Evidence-based management is about making decisions through the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of four sources of information: practitioner expertise and judgment, evidence from the local context, a critical evaluation of the best available research evidence, and the perspectives of those people who might be affected by the decision.” Briner, Denyer & Rousseau, 2009
Not Everyone Is Impressed… “Fact-based” figures into a new suite of verbal tics that I find especially annoying: reality-based, evidence- based, knowledge-based. “As opposed to what?”, I am always tempted to ask. Alex Beam Boston Globe July 8, 2011
What Stands in the Way of EBM? Practitioner side Academic side Lack of awareness of Insularity, “incestuou research findings sness” Disbelief or dislike of Publishing norms research findings and reward Non-implementation structures of research findings “Evidence wars”
Practice Barrier 1:Lack of Awareness Management not a profession No required education or certification Limits to education (e.g., MBA) Limits to post-education Academics not on most practitioners’ “radar screen”
Practitioner Barrier 2:Awareness, but Disbelief Some areas where practitioners (and some academics) disbelieve research findings Decision aids for selection (Highhouse, 2008) & use of evidence by juries Validity of intelligence for predicting performance (Hunter & Schmidt, 1998) Average effectiveness of goal setting vs. “empowerment”
Commonalities in FindingsAssociated with Disbelief Threats to self-image or threatening implications for self outcomes Dislike of findings that imply reduced control (Pinker) (Intelligence, goals, actuarial formulae) Dislike of findings that describe humans in terms of discrete traits (vs. holistic, individuated “bundle”) Dislike of “being a number; being like everyone else” “Uniqueness paradox” (Rousseau)
“The Uniqueness Paradox” “But that’s a different industry” “But we already hire smart people” “But we already have a better hiring system than most” “But we have other objectives than performance” Would we use the same logic with our doctor?
Other Barriers to Belief:Distrust of Science/Scientists Increasing funding of scientific studies by corporate interests “You can find a scientist who’ll say anything” Findings keep changing (medicine, diet) In U.S.: Concerted, systematic attacks on science per se (based on politics and religion) Embryonic stem cells Sexual abstinence Climate Evolution
This book is a wake-up call to all Americans who valueintellectual honesty and civility in our national affairs. Mooney’s exposure of the cynical collusion of specialbusiness interests with the anti- intellectualism of the religious right is a must-read for all who care about this nation’s future. (Russell Train, EPAAdministrator for Nixon & Ford)
Practitioner Barrier 3:Belief but No Implementation Johns (Personnel Psychology, 1993): Management research ideas looked at as administrative rather than technological innovations. Agency theory: Does reader of research act as an agent? Pfeffer & Sutton (Knowing-Doing Gap): Company differences in research receptivity Rogers (Diffusion of Innovations, 2003) & Tetlock (ASQ, 2000): Also individual differences in receptivity Ferlie et al. (AMJ, 2005): Role of professionals; need to elevate to higher levels of analysis
Potential Solutions: Warning I think all the evidence about innovation in general practice points to the fact that rarely, very rarely, does a single method change people’s behaviour. (Primary care doctor interviewed for Ferlie et al. )
Actions to Increase Awareness Build relationships with practitioners Bartunek (AMJ, 2007), Burt (AMJ, 2007), Nonaka & Konno (1998) Investigate topics of greater interest to practitioners Content areas: academics tend to “follow” Align research/reviews with problem-focus Phenomenon focus Expand/reward use of appropriate outlets for translating research findings
Actions to Increase BeliefsCommunicate more effectivelyProduce more systematic reviews & points of agreement among “camps” More effective teaching of statistics & methods Maybe how to read/interpret studies more so than conducting them
Actions to Increase Implementation Co-produce and co-implement research with practitioners Joint sensemaking (Mohrman et al. and Amabile et al., AMJ, 2001) Create “roadmaps” for implementation (e.g., Kotter) Enhance the “implications for practice” sections of academic journals Communicate “principles” accompanied by examples Locke’s Handbook of OB Principles; Latham’s Becoming an Evidence- Based Manager; Pearce’s Real Research for Real Managers Need research to find “what works”
Questions to Ponder Is this just a micro OB/Human Resources phenomenon? What structures are needed to support EBM? What additional evidence do WE (academics) need to support EBM? Is EBM the right “marketing” for the movement?
For further Details…. Rynes, S.L. (in press). “The research-practice gap in I/O psychology and related fields: Challenges and potential solutions.” In S. Kozlowski (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, OUP. Giluk, T. & Rynes, S.L. (in press). “Research findings practitioners resist: Lessons for management academics from evidence-based medicine.” Forthcoming in D. Rousseau, (Ed.), Handbook of Evidence-Based Management: Companies, Classrooms and Research. OUP.