Evidence is, in itself, meaningless. We need theory, imagination, contextual knowledge and experience to make sense of, interpret and use evidence. Evidence is always gathered in a particular context, and the complex context of management decisions means that the outcome of scientific research can never be treated as a “universal truth”. Think of it perhaps in legal terms. A court is presented with many forms of evidence (DNA, people’s testimonies, alibis, locations, statements, etc). Each piece of evidence means little without contextual knowledge, motives, etc. In other words, knowing ‘that’ something is the case is of limited value unless you also know or have a sense of ‘why’ and what it might therefore mean for what you want to do.
The research evidence of evidence-based management is only intended to help inform practicing managers and aid them in questioning their assumptions and “common sense,” not to be a replacement for experience-based knowledge.