The Path to Evidence Based Management: Major Challenges and Some Solutions


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The Path to Evidence Based Management: Major Challenges and Some Solutions
HR Conference Groningen 2011
Key note speech by Sara Rynes
HR Conference 2011

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine
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  • The Path to Evidence Based Management: Major Challenges and Some Solutions

    1. 1. Sara L. RynesEvidence-Based Management Conference University of Groningen November 7-8, 2011
    2. 2. 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
    3. 3. 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
    4. 4. 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”
    5. 5. 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”
    6. 6. 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”
    7. 7. 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)
    8. 8. “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?
    9. 9. 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
    10. 10. 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)
    11. 11. 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
    12. 12. 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. )
    13. 13. Alternative Metaphors
    14. 14. 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
    15. 15. Actions to Increase BeliefsCommunicate more effectivelyProduce 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
    16. 16. 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”
    17. 17. 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?
    18. 18. 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.