Concept clarification of Evidence-Based Management

My current series of post are centered on clarifying the meaning of being evidence-based and a recent article (Briner, Denyer & Rousseau, 2009) falls right in line with this task.  The article focusses on 4 key points in clarifying EBMgmt.

1. EBMgt (Evidence-based Management) is something done by practitioners, not scholars.

One caveat here, the implication that practitioniers do not need to be scholars.  The type of scholarship and scholarly activity may be different, but evidence-based practice is based on scientific inquiry and requires a certain level of knowledge and thought.  People often talk of this being a knowledge age, which if true, will mean that more and more people need a better understanding of various forms of scholarship.  Understanding science is often a foundation of educational programs designed to prepare evidence-based practitioners.  The scientific tasks of practitioners will be different than other types of scholarship.  It is scholarship focused on what’s relevant to practice and it’s true that practitioners often find current scholarship irrelevant, but there is a type of scholarship that will drive the evidence-based movement.

2.EBMgt is a family of practices, not a single rigid formulaic method.

Determining the validity of one’s practice focuses on the total context of practice.  Both it’s method and the type of evidence required is multifaceted.

3. Scholars, educators, and consultants can all play a part in building the essential supports for the practice of EBMgt. To effectively target critical knowledge and related resources to practitioners, an EBMgt infrastructure is required; its development depends on the distinctive knowledge and skills found in each of these communities.

Well said!  I also hope that we see related innovative thinking in these communities as well.

4. Systematic reviews (SRs) are a cornerstone of EBMgt practice and its infrastructure, and they need to possess certain features if they are to be informative and useful.

I believe the infrastructure needs should focus on systematic reviews that go beyond what work in a simplistic fashion.  It should focus on the total needs of practitioners who are developing their practice by means of scientific inquiry.  Major et al (2009) in the December issue of American Psychologist is a good example of a through review process.  Their article reviews the empirical research on the links between abortion and women’s mental health, a highly contested and politicalized issue.  They first look at how relevant concepts and research questions have been framed by various studies.  They consider various problems with the data before analyzing the results organized by different parameters.  Because of their comprehensive approach, their conclusions not only provide a good empirical summation, but will also contribute to practitioners’ understanding of the relevant issues from a number of different perspectives and how it might relate to different practices.

My next post will focus on what types of knowledge (and hence what type of infrastructure) might be needed by the scientific inquiry of practitioners.


Major, B., Applebaum, M., Beckman, L., Duton, M.A., Russo, N.F. & West, C. (2009). Abortion and Mental Health: Evaluating the Evidence, American Psychologist, Vol 64 (9) pp.863-890

Briner, R.B., Denyer, D. & Rousseau, D.M., (2009). Evidence-Based Management: Concept Cleanup Time? Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol. 23(4), pp. 19-32.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *