CEBMa Newsletter Fall 2019

Dear reader

Welcome to our Autumn 2019 newsletter!

Yes, we know, we dropped off the radar for quite a while. But the good news is that CEBMa is really flourishing, partly because the need for EBMgt education is booming and several large corporations are taking the leap into evidence-based decision making.

In this issue we answer some frequently asked questions, report on CEBMa’s activities, present three REAs, and announce the 2020 meeting of the evidence-based tribe in Vancouver. And hey, did you know that two big CEBMa cheeses received a prestigious award?

Happy reading!

Eric Barends, Managing Director

Denise Rousseau, Chair, Academic Board

FAQ: How Does CEBMa Make Its Money?

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at CEBMa is: How do you guys make money? What is your business model? Well, our money comes from two main sources: teaching and consulting.

Teaching is CEBMa’s core business. Several of CEBMa Fellows teach Evidence-based management at universities and business schools, and CEBMa’s staff frequently run in-company training courses. And of course, we have our online learning modules that are used by several educational institutions, which creates a modest but steady revenue stream.

Another source of income stems from our consulting practices, Although CEBMa is not a consulting firm, we are happy to support organizations to take an evidence-based approach by retrieving, appraising and summarizing the scientific literature (REA) on an issue that is relevant to the organization. The REA below that we conducted for Novartis is a good example.

New REA: Does Organizational Culture Drive Performance?

For decades organizational culture has been claimed to be an important driver of organizational success. It is assumed that certain cultures are ‘bad’ or ‘weak’ and need to be changed, whereas others are more constructive and need to be strengthened. 

The claim that organizational culture affects firm performance rests upon three underlying assumptions: 1) an organization has an identifiable culture; 2) culture is related to performance; 3) a culture can be changed to positively impact performance.

Although intuitively appealing and often accepted as fact - a recent survey showed that 78 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO’s believe culture to be one of the top three factors affecting their firm’s performance - academia has a somewhat uneasy relationship with this claim. In fact, many scholars question whether ‘organizational culture’ is a valid construct to start with, whereas others suggest that you can’t measure - and thus can’t manage or change – an organization’s culture.

For this reason, Novartis approached CEBMa to undertake a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) to understand what is known in the scientific literature about the link between culture and performance. 

You can download the REA on Organizational Culture here >>

Rob Briner Wins Prestigious HR Lifetime Achievement Award

Rob Briner, one of CEBMa’s founding members and  its scientific director, is the 2020 winner of the prestigious HR Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the highest award bestowed by HR Magazine on an individual in recognition of “their outstanding and exceptional contribution to HR thinking or practice”.

As the jury report states “His work on evidence-based HR will no doubt always be hugely relevant and needed within the HR profession. And it’s impossible to imagine a time when Briner is no longer generously dedicating huge amounts of time and energy to ensuring HR practitioners understand what it’s all about and how to embed this day to day.”


New Publication: Key Concepts for Informed Choices

In our last newsletter, we informed you about the initiative of evidence-based medicine pioneer Andy Oxman and an alliance of 24 representatives of other evidence-based domains such as education, agriculture, economics, management, nutrition, policing, social welfare, etc. to develop a set of principles (key concepts) that can be used to teach people to think more critically and make evidence-based decisions. These key concepts were published in Nature this summer. Below is an excerpt and a link to download the whole article.

Everyone makes claims about what works. Politicians claim that stop-and-search policing will reduce violent crime; friends might assert that vaccines cause autism; advertisers declare that natural food is healthy. A group of scientists describes giving all schoolchildren deworming pills in some areas as one of the most potent anti-poverty interventions of our time. Another group counters that it does not improve children’s health or performance at school. Unfortunately, people often fail to think critically about the trustworthiness of claims, including policymakers who weigh up those made by scientists. Schools do not do enough to prepare young people to think critically. So many people struggle to assess evidence. As a consequence, they might make poor choices. To address this deficit, we present here a set of principles for assessing the trustworthiness of claims about what works, and for making informed choices.

Download the Nature article here >>

FAQ: Where Can I Learn Evidence Based Management?

Another frequently asked questions we get at CEBMa is “Where can I learn how to take an evidence-based approach to management issues”. The easiest answer to this question is “Read our book”. Another option would be to go to one of these universities and business schools and sign up for a course. Unfortunately, most of these courses are quite expensive and accessible only for registered students. So maybe your best option is the online learning modules CEBMa has developed in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative. 

The fastest way to get access to these modules is by signing up as a professional member. Professional members get access to six modules, after successfully completing the modules you will receive a CEBMa certificate of completion. 

(If you an associate, professional or fellow member, you have access to the modules through the member area of CEBMa's website).

Read more here >>

New REA: Do Middle Managers Impact Workplace Performance (and if so, how)?

Middle managers take an important place in organizations’ management structure. Through their intermediate position in the organization, these managers are assumed to serve as an important interface between otherwise disconnected actors. However, for some people, a middle manager represents a person who stubbornly defends the status quo because he or she is too unimaginative to dream up anything better – it is the organizational layer where you’ll find the most resistance and change initiatives die.

However you feel about middle managers, the fact is that their roles and responsibilities as well as their impact on workplace performance often remain unclear. For this reason, NHS Employers approached the CEBMa to undertake a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) to understand what is known in the scientific literature about the roles, practices and impact of middle managers on workplace performance.

You can download the REA on middle managers here >>

CEBMa’s REA-reviewers Gathering on January 18 & 19 in Amsterdam

To conduct rapid evidence assessments (REAs) we depend on the expertise of CEBMa fellows who have the expertise to critically appraise the findings of scientific studies. To share our love and show our appreciation (of course), but also to share experiences and dive a bit more into typical REA aspects such as the interpretation of effect sizes we have organized a workshop in Amsterdam. If you have already some knowledge and experience on critical appraisal of scientific studies and would like to become a CEBMa reviewer, please join us!

For more information, please contact us >>

Denise Rousseau Wins Prestigious Michael R Losey Award

Denise Rousseau, founding member and chair of CEBMa’s academic board, is the winner of the prestigious Michael R. Losey Excellence in Human Resource Research Award. Denise was recognized for her significant research into HR management and her contribution to evidence-based management. The award was announced at the 2019 Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) Volunteer Leaders' Business Meeting at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, D.C.


The Perfect Christmas Gift For Your Boss

Christmas is already sneaking up on us, so if you are considering giving your boss a Christmas present, we have the perfect suggestion for you. Whether you have the coolest, hard-nosed evidence-based boss or you just want to politely nudge your boss to prioritize quality evidence over personal opinion, our book is the ideal Christmas gift. As explained in the chapter “Building The Capacity For Evidence Based Management”, unless you are running a one-person business on a desert island, evidence-based management involves other people, such as colleagues, bosses or clients. Therefore, the next step in building evidence-based capacity within your organisation is introducing the approach to your boss and co-workers. Sure, you could also give your boss one of these cute reindeer sweaters, but we think our book is a better choice.

You can buy our book here >>

Oh, and when you write a review on Amazon, we'll reimburse your costs or send you a free copy!

CEBMa Gathering August 2020 in Vancouver

Join our international gathering of evidence-based managers, teachers and other professionals on August 6 in Vancouver! Yes, we know ... August 2020 is still far away, but we think that many CEBMa fellows & friends from all over the world will be interested in joining this event, so we decided to make the announcement well in advance.

If you would like to make a contribution (e.g. give a presentation or run a workshop),   

please let us know >>

From Our Friends from ScienceForWork:


What’s The Evidence For Team Building?

Being a manager isn’t easy. Along with ensuring the team delivers, you are also expected to make sure that team members get along well and are happy as part of the team. Team building activities are often recommended as a solution to keep the team’s satisfaction high. Since everyone seems to be partaking in team building activities, you might see this as a potential option for your team.

But before investing in team building, there are a few important questions that you should ask: What is the evidence that team building activities have any impact on the team? Iulia Alina Cioca, writer at ScienceForWork and fellow of CEBMa, wrote this evidence summary based on a critical review of the best available scientific evidence.

You can read Iulia’s evidence summary here >>

Book Recommendation: A Skeptic's HR Dictionary

Have you ever wondered what goes on in HR departments of organizations? They claim to perform vital tasks and provide valuable resources for employees, but do they? They engage many different HR programs, but do they work? In his new book A Skeptic's HR Dictionary, Patrick Vermeren - HR consultant and fellow of CEBMa - you will find the answers to these questions and the discover the good, the bad and the partially true in well-known HR tools and programs, based on what the best available scientific evidence tells us. We know Patrick as a critical but fair promotor of evidence-based management, so we look forward to reading this comprehensive guide that critically evaluates the most important theories, models, practices and questionnaires in the domain of HR management.

Read more about Patrick’s book here >>

Employers Can - And Should - Make Every Day Pay Day

In his last column Jeffrey Pfeffer, founding member of CEBMa, takes an evidence-based look at employee payment. His conclusion: Make every day pay day. 

When a former participant in a Stanford executive program invited me to join the advisory board of PayActiv, a company providing employees access to their earned wages between pay periods, I had no idea about the pressing need for what has become a growing industry and movement. Yet giving people access to their money more quickly represents one small but important step to reducing an epidemic of employee financial stress.

Here’s why human resources departments should embrace the movement to make every day a payday.

Continue reading Jeff’s column here >>

Missed a past newsletter? Find it here >>


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