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Evidence-based Management: Challenges & Partial Solutions

Evidence-based Management: Challenges & Partial Solutions. Sara L. Rynes Evidence-Based Management Conference University of Groningen November 7-8, 2011. What IS Evidence-based Management (EBM)?.

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Evidence-based Management: Challenges & Partial Solutions

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  1. Evidence-based Management: Challenges & Partial Solutions Sara L. Rynes Evidence-Based Management Conference University of Groningen November 7-8, 2011

  2. What IS Evidence-based Management (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. 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. What Stands in the Way of EBM? • Practitioner side • Lack of awareness of research findings • Disbelief or dislike of research findings • Non-implementation of research findings • Academic side • Insularity, “incestuousness” • Publishing norms and reward structures • “Evidence wars”

  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. 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. Commonalities in Findings Associated 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. “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. 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. This book is a wake-up call to all Americans who value intellectual honesty and civility in our national affairs. Mooney’s exposure of the cynical collusion of special business interests with the anti-intellectualism of the religious right is a must-read for all who care about this nation’s future. (Russell Train, EPA Administrator for Nixon & Ford)

  11. Practitioner Barrier 3:Belief but No Implementation • Johns (Personnel Psychology, 1993): Management research ideas looked at as administrativerather than technologicalinnovations. • 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. 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. Alternative Metaphors

  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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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