Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Report from your Liaison to Practice Elect

A Report from your Liaison to Practice Elect

On June 28-30, 2007, about thirty researchers from at least twenty-five universities in five countries met at Carnegie Mellon University, convened by former Academy of Management President, Denise Rousseau. Also present were former AOM Presidents, Jean Bartunek and Jone Pearce (for a more detailed, yet incomplete list of attendants, click here). The main purpose of this meeting was to form:

"...a community-of-practice to make evidence-informed management a reality. [Its] mission is to close the gap between management research and the ways practitioners make managerial and organizational decisions and educators teach organizational behavior, theory, strategy and human resources management. The Collaborative’s primary task is to design the architecture and support practices for on-line access to best evidence summarized in ways practitioners and educators can readily use" (source: CMU's webpage for the EBMgt conference).

Evidence-Based Management (EBMgt) is a concept that we can already find in a variety of well-respected sources. Essentially, EBMgt could be defined as executing management practice in a manner that is informed by the best available scientific evidence. A combination of a Harvard Business Review article (Pfeffer & Sutton, Evidence-based Management. Harvard Business Review, 84:1, January 2006), HBSP book and website by Jeff Pfeffer & Bob Sutton (Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense, 2006) is among the best-known sources. Our own Ben Arbaugh recently led a special section of AMLE reviewing the Hard Facts... book (Academy of Management Learning & Education, 6:1, March 2007). Rousseau & McCarthy also published an AMLE article (Educating Managers from an Evidence-Based Perspective. 6:1, March 2007, pp. 84-101), and Rousseau spoke about EBMgt during her AoM presidential address, later published as "Is There Such a Thing as 'Evidence-Based Management'?" (Academy of Management Review, 31:2, pp. 256-269, 2006). In short, influential voices from our colleagues have been insisting in the need to make the most robust research findings available to practitioners so that their decision process is better informed, as it has been occurring in Medicine, Education, Nursing, Library Science, Conservation, Government, Social Work, Software Engineering, and Criminology (at least!).

During those two-and-a-half working days (program details can be found here), attendants worked on understanding what "Evidence-Based Management" is. We heard presentations from managers that have been exposed to the concept of EBMgt and have been internalizing it in their practice. A representative from Wiley & Sons (the publisher) showed us what they have been doing for the "Cochrane collaboration," and the "Campbell collaboration;" two online evidence-based databases dedicated to document and make research findings available for practitioners in Medicine and Education, respectively.

Possibly the main result of this meeting has been the formation of a "core" group of academics that has invested considerable energy in learning about and possibly starting a "Management Collaboration" that might jump-start a variety of services geared toward making scientific research findings more readily available for practitioners. Of special interest is the fact that the above mentioned "collaborations" seem to be based around "Systematic Reviews" (akin to our "Literature reviews" but adding certain parameters that seem to be more or less accepted) and "Protocols" (a blueprint that spells out in some detail who and how will carry out a Systematic Review on a specific area).

Current plans include two more meetings in January and June of 2008. Your MED Liaison to Practice will gladly represent you again (unless the following meetings get out of hand in terms of their cost; this time I only had to drive less than two hours but my travel budget will be exceeded by the AoM meeting in Anaheim).

As a participant in this EBMgt Collaborative, I have been trying to find sponsors to fund expenses for the EBMgt meetings in 2008. Another objective of my participation is to organize "something" during the 2008 AoM Conference to provide the service for which I was elected last year. For both, please send me any suggestions that you might have by submitting a comment in the blog version of this document, via email, phone (+1-814-393-2641) or in person. Thanks in advance!!!

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