I don't know about you but I've been confused about whether academic research and evidence-based management (EBM) are just two terms that mean the same thing ---or if they are totally different. So I looked into it.
Here's a definition of each one:
Academic Research: Scientific method of inquiry that starts by making assumptions (an hypothesis) about what the findings are expected to be. The methodology for testing the hypothesis and analyzing the results is usually mathematical.
EBM: Evidence-based management involves making decisions about the management of employees or companies through the use of four sources of information: practitioner expertise and judgment, a critical evaluation of the best available research evidence, evidence from the local context and the perspectives of people who might be affected by the decision.
Although academic research has existed for years, it has never been much help to HR practitioners. Reasons? Academic research is very narrow and covers only a small portion of subject matter that is useful to HR. In addition, researchers are rewarded and their tenure depends on conducting research that is accepted for publication in top-tier journals not in conducting research that is geared towards application.
EBM is practice-focused and starts with questions, problems, and issues faced by HR practitioners in daily situations. It’s not hypothesis or theory which is the primary focus of academic research.
Consequently there is a gap between what academic researchers want to study and what practitioners want them to study. Ed Lawler says:
“If I had to choose one change that would make a difference, it would be for business schools to change their research focuses. . . I would argue that they should do much more research and writing that focuses on practice. The problem is that I do not see business schools showing any interest in changing their approach to research.”
Enough said about academic research. Let’s move on and look at a description of what EMB is and is not.
Analytics is one type of EBM evidence that is proving to be a huge help to HR practitioners. A survey by Mercer/World at Work provides some good information about HR analytics including external and internal benchmarking, projections, simulations and predictive modeling.
Today total rewards involves more than just insuring competitive pay and pay-for-performance. It requires a broader analysis showing the business impact of specific practices. This includes looking at how rewards effect the ability of the company to hire the right skillsets, to satisfy different employee generations/demographics and to reduce or reallocate costs without disrupting productivity. And all of this can be done via the use of analytics.
Some good news: the first EBM peer-related journal is available. It would be worth your while to look at it. The current issue has several articles on compensation.
Welcome to the new world of EBM and HR analytics! Where have you been?
Jacque Vilet, President of Vilet International, has over 20 years’ experience in Global Human Resources with major multinationals such as Intel, National Semiconductor and Seagate Technology. She has managed both local/ in-country national and expatriate programs and has been an expat twice during her career. Her true love is working with local national issues. Jacque has the following certifications: CCP, GPHR, HCS and SWP as well as a B.S. and M.S in Psychology and an MBA. She belongs to SHRM, Human Capital Institute and World at Work. Jacque been a speaker in the U.S., Asia and Europe, and is a regular contributor to various HR and talent management publications.