EBM Reconsidered

11 September 2007 at 12:02 pm 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

Joe Mahoney, whose opinions are highly valued around here, thinks we are unfair to evidence-based management (EBM) (1, 2). Joe encourages readers to study Denise Rousseau’s 2005 Academy of Management Presidential Address and make up their own minds. Writes Joe:

Some of the leading folks in the evidence based-management (EBM) research program include past Academy of Management Presidents such as Jean Bartunek (Boston College), Jone Pearce (University of California, Irvine) and Denise Rousseau (Carnegie Mellon University). In the Strategy field, Ravi Madhavan (University of Pittsburgh), Alfie Marcus (University of Minnesota) and myself have recently become involved. The real leader of the Evidence-Based Management program is Denise Rousseau, who offers much of substance.

Joe reports that he attended a June 2007 workshop at Carnegie Mellon on EBM and came away much impressed. EBM, Joe writes, “means translating principles based on best evidence into organizational practices. Thus, organizational decisions are informed by social science and organizational research, which aid in solving organizational problems.” It’s hard to disagree with that.

Entry filed under: Management Theory, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, Strategic Management.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. srp  |  11 September 2007 at 7:02 pm

    The presidential address seems more focused on moralizing than on applying well-understood best practices. Also, it seems focused entriely on non-strategic non-contingent one-size-fits-all; ideas based on OB research. Color me skeptical. Maybe I’ll take this sort of thing more seriously when I hear people advocating random reward reinforcement of behavior (which I’m told is one of the few robust best-practices in experimental psychology) even though it is “not nice.”

    In addition, the idea does seem rather diffuse. Perhaps a better idea would be to pick ONE idea where the evidence is really strong and the recommendation less contingent–maybe goal-setting and giving feedback, cited in the address linked–and then try to get that practice adopted all over the place. EBM as a whole seems to have too dull and edge to cut through organizational inertia.

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