Evidence in general means information, facts or data supporting (or contradicting) a claim, assumption or hypothesis – like the use of ‘evidence’ in legal settings. In fact, anything might count as evidence if it’s judged to be valid, reliable and relevant.
When referring to “evidence from the scientific literature” we mean the empirical studies published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. In recent decades, much research has been published on topics directly relevant to management practice, such as motivating employees, managing mergers, using financial incentives, improving performance, and selecting and evaluating employees. Thus, when it comes to tackling these issues in practice, it is important to consider results from these studies.
However, to bring more evidence from the scientific literature into their decisions, managers need to know how to search for studies in online databases (or have staff who can), and learn how to critically appraise the validity and applicability of the studies found.
See also: Best available evidence and Levels of evidence