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EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE: I’ve Got The Data. Now What?

While there are plenty of conceptual frameworks for transferring knowledge from evidence to practice, the act of successfully exchanging and applying evidence in the form of information, ideas and experiences remains an enigma for most. Unfortunately, this has led to mixed perceptions of the utility of evidence-based practice (EBP), not only amongst practitioners but also students [1].

The advocacy for properly testing the effectiveness of practices has been going on since the early 70’s – first being introduced to medicine. However, it wasn’t until two decades later that the term evidence-based practice (EBP) was coined and the use of evidence further reinforced to better inform clinical decision-making. Soon enough EBP became mainstream and transgressed into other industry sectors, fields and practices. The concept has gathered many fans, while also attracting some critics along the way. One common one being that EBP relies too heavily on research.

Just to be clear, the concept of evidence-based decision making is a combination of not only research evidence, but also practitioner expertise and stakeholder preferences. The Center for Evidence Based Management (CEBMa) widens the lens on this transdisciplinary model for EBP and advises that.

 

Management decisions should be based on a combination of critical thinking and the best available evidence [2].

 

And by best available evidence, CEBMa reinforces this is combining empirical studies, professional expertise, organisational internal data and stakeholder values and concerns.

There is no shortage of scientific research carried out on issues relevant to organisational processes and work-based phenomena. In fact, it would be safe to say that supply outweighs demand, which is a bit of a shame considering the benefit good, well-constructed forms of evidence can bring to management decisions. For instance, it has been reported that EBP supported by research can increase organisational efficiency, help keep practice current, and increase confidence in decision-making [3]. There is heaps of knowledge that sits in decades of research produced within areas of business psychology, behavioural economics, and other social sciences. The logical way forward is therefore having the ability to systematically review the literature and establish best practices beyond mixed opinions and intuition, stereotypes and management myths [4].

 

Using evidence is more than just crunching organisational data or looking for statistically significant results.

So how do we choose and use evidence that is useful for practice?

Whatever combination of best available evidence is used, it is becoming more pertinent that practitioners are better informed in knowing how to effectively bring scientific evidence into their decisions. The growing uncertainty within the current business climate and global economic environment has noticeably added to the complexity of core management decision-making processes.

On that note and guided by a knowledge exchange model [5], we have launched 2 webinars that will in part go back to basics and help address some of the dilemmas faced by I-O researchers when doing good research, and practitioners when interpreting evidence and applying it in real-world organisational settings.

Each webinar will be 2-fold consisting of a student award winner and a guest speaker from the EBP domain. You will hear from two of our postgraduate award winners showcasing excellence in their academic research in the area of business psychology. Having addressed a workplace issue, they will each surmise how their findings can potentially inform key decision-making processes, help resolve complex problems or support the creation of more effective domain-specific strategies relevant to their research topic. They will be accompanied and guided by champions in the field of evidence-based practice and management, who will provide a short review on aspects of the student’s research approach. Not only this, our esteemed guest speakers will then share their expertise and explain HOW evidence can be used to transform the delivery of core organisational processes.

For more information and event details please click here

By Uzma Waseem

References
[1] Wright, A.L., Irving, G., Hibbert, P. & Greenfield, G. (2018). Student’s understanding of evidence-based management: Ways of doing and being. Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol 17(4), p435-473.
[2] Barend, E., Rousseau, D.M. & Briner, R.B. (2014). Evidence Based Management: The Basic Principles. Retrieved from https://www.cebma.org/wp-content/uploads/Evidence-Based-Practice-The-Basic-Principles-vs-Dec-2015.pdf
[3] Hall, J.L. (2017). Evidence-Based Practice: Challenging rational wisdom. International Journal of Public Administration, vol 40(9), p730-743.
[4] Galli, L. (2018). How organisations are using behavioural science to make better people decisions. HR People & Strategy: SHRM Executive Network.
[5] Ward, V., Smith, S., House, A. & Hamer, S. (2012). Exploring Knowledge Exchange: A useful framework for practice and policy. Social Science & Medicine, vol 74(3), p297-304.
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