Academy of Management Review 2006, Vol. 31, No. 2, 256–269.
2005 Presidential Address
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS “EVIDENCEBASED MANAGEMENT”?
DENISE M. ROUSSEAU Carnegie Mellon University
I explore the promise organization research offers for improved management practice and how, at present, it falls short. Using evidence-based medicine as an exemplar, I identify ways of closing the prevailing “research-practice gap”—the failure of organizations and managers to base practices on best available evidence. I close with guidance for researchers, educators, and managers for translating the principles governing human behavior and organizational processes into more effective management practice.
Evidence-based management means translating principles based on best evidence into organizational practices. Through evidence-based management, practicing managers develop into experts who make organizational decisions informed by social science and organizational research—part of the zeitgeist moving professional decisions away from personal preference and unsystematic experience toward those based on the best available scientific evidence (e.g., Barlow, 2004; DeAngelis, 2005; LemieuxCharles & Champagne, 2004; Rousseau, 2005; Walshe & Rundall, 2001). This links how managers make decisions to the continually expanding research base on cause-effect principles underlying human behavior and organizational actions. Here is what evidence-based management looks like. Let’s call this example, and true story, “Making Feedback People-Friendly.” The executive director of a health care system with twenty rural clinics notes that their performance differs tremendously across the array of metrics used. This variability has nothing to do with patient mix or employee characteristics. After interviewing clinic members who complain about the sheer number of metrics for which they are accountable (200 indicators sent This article is based on the address I gave at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Honolulu, Hawaii. Chuck Bantz, Andy Garman, Paul S. Goodman, Ricky Griffin, Bob Hinings, Paul Hirsch, Sharon McCarthy, Sara Rynes, Laurie Weingart, and John Zanardelli contributed ideas toward its development. 256
monthly, comparing each clinic to the 19 others), the director recalls a principle from a long-ago course in psychology: human decision makers can only process a limited amount of information at any one time. With input from clinic staff, a redesigned feedback system takes shape. The new system uses three performance categories— care quality, cost, and employee satisfaction—and provides a summary measure for each of the three. Over the next year, through provision of feedback in a more interpretable form, the health system’s performance improves across the board, with low-performing units showing the greatest improvement. In this example a principle (human beings can process only a limited amount of information) is translated into practice (provide feedback on a small set of critical performance indicators using terms people readily understand). Evidence-based management, as in the example above, derives principles from research evidence and translates them into practices that solve organizational problems. This isn’t always easy. Principles are credible only where the evidence is clear, and research findings can be tough for both researchers and practitioners to interpret. Moreover, practices that capitalize on a principle’s insights must suit the setting (e.g., who is to say that the particular performance indicators the executive director uses are pertinent to all units?). Evidence-based management, despite these challenges, promises more consistent attainment of organizational goals, including those affecting employees, stockhold-
ers, and the public in general. This is the promise that attracted me to organizational research at the beginning of my career— but it remains unfulfilled. THE GREAT...
References: Anderson, J. R., Fincham, J. M., & Douglass, S. 1997. The role of examples and rules in the acquisition of a cognitive skill. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 23: 932–945. Bandura, A. 1971. Social learning theory. New York: General Learning Press. Barlow, D. H. 2004. Psychological treatments. American Psychologist, 59: 869 – 878. Barnard, C. I. 1938. Functions of the executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Benner, P. 2001. From novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice (commemorative ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley. Bennis, W. G., & O’Toole, J. 2004. How business schools lost their way. Harvard Business Review, 82(3): 96 –104. Campbell Collaboration. 2005. http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/, accessed December 5. Cascio, W. F., Young, C. E., & Morris, J. K. 1997. Financial consequences of employment-change decisions in major U.S. corporations. Academy of Management Journal, 40: 1175–1189. Case, J. 1995. Open-book management: The coming business revolution. New York: Harper Business. Cochrane Collaboration. 2005. http://www.cochrane.org/ index0.htm, accessed December 5. Cowherd, D., & Levine, D. I. 1992. Product quality and pay equity between lower-level employees and top management: An investigation of distributive justice theory. Administrative Science Quarterly, 37: 302–320. Cyert, R. M., & Goodman, P. S. 1997. Creating effective university-industry alliances: An organizational learning perspective. Organizational Dynamics, 25(4): 45–57. DeAngelis, T. 2005. Shaping evidence-based practice. APA Monitor, 35(3): 26 –31. Deming, W. E. 1993. The new economics for industry, government, and education. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Desvarieux, M., Demmer, R. T., Rundek, T., Boden-Abala, B., Jacobs, D. R., Jr., Sacco, R. L., & Papapanou, P. N. 2005. Periodontal microbiota and carotid intima-media thickness: The oral infections and vascular disease epidemiology study (INVEST). Circulation, 111: 576 –582. Evans, J. R., & Dean, J. W., Jr. 2000. Total quality: Management, organization, and strategy (2nd ed.). Cincinnati: South-Western Publishing. Eysenbach, G., & Kummervold, P. E. 2005. Is cybermedicine killing you? The story of a Cochrane disaster. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 7(2): article e21. Ferrante, C. J., & Rousseau, D. M. 2001. Bringing open book management into the academic line of sight. In C. L. Cooper & D. M. Rousseau (Eds.), Employee versus owner issues (Trends in Organizational Behavior Series), vol. 8: 97–116. Chichester, UK: Wiley. Franklin, D. 2005. Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. New York Times, August 30: D5. Frieze, I. H. 1976. Causal attributions and information seeking to explain success and failure. Journal of Research in Personality, 10: 293–305. Gladwell, M. 2002. The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. New York: Back Bay Books. Goodman, P. S. 2001. Missing organizational linkages. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Goodman, P. S. 2005. The organizational learning contract. Working paper, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. Goodman, P. S., & Rousseau, D. M. 2004. Organizational change that produces results. Academy of Management Executive, 18(3): 7–19. Hill, L. A. 1992. Becoming a manager: How new managers master the challenges of leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. House, R. J., & Wigdor, L. A., 1967. Herzberg’s dual-factor theory of job satisfaction and motivation. Personnel Psychology, 23: 369 –389. Jadad, A. R., Haynes, R. B., Hunt, D., & Browman, G. P. 2000. The internet and evidence-based decision-making: A needed synergy for efficient knowledge management in health care. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 162: 362–365. Jaques, E. 1976. (Reprinted in 1993.) A general theory of bureaucracy. London: Gregg Revivals. Jimerson, S. R., Anderson, G., & Whipple, A. 2002. Winning the battle and losing the war: Examining the relation between grade retention and dropping out of high school. Psychology in the Schools, 39:441– 457. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2004. Expert on hospital infections talks about hand washing. http://www.hopkinsmedicine. org/Press_releases/2004/10_28_04.html, October 28. Kersting, K. 2005. Integrating research into teaching. APA Monitor, 35(1): 19. Kerr, S., & Jermier, J. M. 1978. Substitutes for leadership: Their meaning and measurement. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 22: 375– 403.
269 and quality in human service work: 33– 46. Munich: Hampp.
Kinicki, A., & Kreitner, R. 2003. Organizational behavior: Key concepts, skills and best practices. New York: McGrawHill. Kolata, G. 2004. Program coaxes hospitals to see treatments under their noses. New York Times, December 2: A1, C8. Kovner, A. R., Elton, J. J., & Billings, J. D. 2005. Evidence-based management. Frontiers of Health Services Management, 16(4): 3–24. Lemieux-Charles, L., & Champagne, F. 2004. Using knowledge and evidence in healthcare: Multidisciplinary perspectives. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. 1984. Goal setting: A motivational technique that works. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Lomas, J., Culyer, T., McCutcheon, C., McAuley, L., & Law, S. 2005. Conceptualizing evidence for health system guidance. Final report to Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Ottawa, Ontario. Martin, J., Feldman, M., Hatch, M., & Sitkin, S. B. 1983. The uniqueness paradox in organizational stories. Administrative Science Quarterly, 28: 438 – 453. Meindl, J. R., Erlich, S. B., & Dukerich, J. M. 1985. The romance of leadership. Administrative Science Quarterly, 30: 78 – 101. Miller, G. J. 1992. Managerial dilemmas: The political economy of hierarchy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mohrman, S. A., Gibson, C. B., & Mohrman, A. M. 2001. Doing research that is useful to practice: A model and empirical exploration. Academy of Management Journal, 44: 357–375. Mohrman, S. A., & Mohrman, A. M., Jr. 1997. Designing and leading team-based organizations: A workbook for organizational self-design. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). 2005. Position statement on grade retention and social promotion. www.nasponline.org/information/pospaper_ graderetent.html, accessed November 24. Parker, M. 2005. False dichotomies, EBM, clinical freedom and the art of medicine. Medical Humanities, 31: 23–30. Pfeffer, J., & Sutton, R. I. In press. Hard facts, dangerous half-truths, and total nonsense: Profiting from evidencebased management. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Rousseau, D. M. 2005. Evidence-based management in health care. In C. Korunka & P. Hoffmann (Eds.), Change
Rucci, A. J., Kirn, S. P., & Quinn, R. T. 1998. The employeecustomer-profit chain at Sears. Harvard Business Review, 76(1): 82–97. Rynes, S. L., Brown, K. G., Colbert, A. E. 2002. Seven common misconceptions about human resource practices: Research findings versus practitioner beliefs. Academy of Management Executive, 18(3): 92–103. Rynes, S. L., Trank, C. Q., Lawson, A. M., & Ilies, R. 2003. Behavioral coursework in business education: Growing evidence of a legitimacy crisis. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2: 269 –283. Sackett, D. L., Straus, S. E., Richardson, W. S., Rosenberg, W., & Haynes, R. B. 2000. Evidence-based medicine: How to practice and teach EBM. New York: Churchill Livingstone. Schank, R. C. 2003. Every curriculum tells a story. Unpublished manuscript, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. ¨ Schon, D. 1983. The reflective practioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith. Sherman, L. W. 2002. Evidence-based policing: Social organization of information for social control. In E. Waring & D. Weisburd (Eds.), Crime and social organization: 217– 248. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. Staw, B., & Epstein, L. 2000. What bandwagons bring: Effects of popular management techniques on corporate performance, reputation, and CEO pay. Administrative Science Quarterly, 43: 523–556. Thompson, L., Gentner, D., & Lowenstein, J. 2003. Avoiding missed opportunities in managerial life: Analogical training more powerful than individual case training. In L. L. Thompson (Ed.), The social psychology of organizational life: 163–173. New York: Psychology Press. Trank, C. Q., & Rynes, S. L. 2003. Who moved our cheese? Reclaiming professionalism in business education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2: 189 – 205. Tyler, T. 1990. Why people obey the law. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Walshe, K., & Rundall, T. G. 2001. Evidence-based management: From theory to practice in health care. Milbank Quarterly, 79: 429 – 457. Whyte, W. F. 1948. Human relations in the restaurant industry. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Denise M. Rousseau (email@example.com) is past president of the Academy of Management and H. J. Heinz II Professor of Organizational Behavior and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, jointly in the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management and the Tepper School of Business.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document