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Book Chapter

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Organizations can be led and managed in many different ways and there is no shortage of perspectives, models, and frameworks for thinking about how such tasks can be accomplished. This chapter focuses on one such perspective: evidence-based management (EBMgt). At its core is the idea that when managers and organizations make decisions, evidence of various types should be collected, critically appraised, and taken into account. Put this way, EBMgt does not appear to be either new or radical. However, as we shall go on to discuss, recent attempts to elaborate and flesh out this idea show that while some of its core principles are unremarkable, actually doing EBMgt presents major challenges, threats, and opportunities. Far from being business as usual, using evidence seriously and systematically appears to represent a significant departure from what organizations typically do.

This chapter starts with an account of the origins of the idea of evidence-based practice in other fields and how it has been adapted in the development of EBMgt. It then looks at the sometimes controversial notion of leadership and what we know about what managers and leaders do. We then consider the extent to which leaders, managers, and organizations are evidence-based in their approach to managing organizations and what can be done to further develop this approach. Finally, we discuss some of the challenges that managing in an evidence-based way present to leaders and to more traditional ways of thinking about what leadership entails.