Couple of interesting reads this morning (Bandura 2006 and Guest 2007) that are relevant to the topics of learning, performance support, knowledge transfer and evidence-based management (EBM). The bottom-line:
(From Bandura) Knowledge transfer in many situations can be seen as a form of learning that proceeds through ongoing modeling with feedback and increasing approximation, not by an explanation of abstract information.
(From Guest) Practitioners do not generally change their practices as a result of abstract knowledge, but from the example of others in their organization or field. (e.g. bankers looking to other bankers or retailers looking to other retailers)
Furthermore – Guest laments the current state of EBM. Changing it requires attention to the communication process (communicator, message, medium and receiver) and the building of bridges (both traditional and non-traditional) between research and practice. Guest is pestamistic about the readiness of the management field to address EBM. I would disagree and suggest the following based on Guest’s communication process analogy:
- Communicator – The concept of EBM is not an outcome, it is the bridge that can close the gap between researchers and practitioners. However, the communicator must stand on this bridge, not on either shore.
- Message – Standing on the EBM bridge, the most important aspect of research is validity. It is a view of validity that begins with the whole of the concept (not the narrow view of traditional research validity). Research is not valid until the consequence of it use in practice can be demonstrated. See a previous post on validity here although I may need to do additional work on the validity concept.
- Medium – In the light of Bandura, the real medium of concern, in fact, are the people in the practitioner’s network.
- Receiver – We need to build up the scope and diversity of practitioner’s networks and the ability of these network to act as learning models for evidence-based practices.