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Article Review On “Evidence Based Management(EBM), The Very Idea” Essay


There has been a recent trend in commending evidence-based approaches for management and policy making decision in the public sector. Evidence based management(EBM) is an aspect that has been heavily developed and relied on in certain practices such as evidence-based policy and evidence-based medicine.  These forms of approaches utilize recent best evidence in decision making and management. Evidence based management(EBM) involves  managerial based decisions and organizational practices that are informed by the best and available scientific evidence with the best evidence in this case being the norms of natural sciences. Evidence based approaches have gained fame over the years. The same has not been without its ups and down.

This has seen evidence based management generate debate with writers such as Learmouth & Harding (2007) opposing the very idea of utilizing the widely acclaimed evidence based approach in fields such as health care. The document reviews the(Learmouth & Harding (2007) article with a look at the evidence provided by the two in support of their opposition to the use of evidence based management (EBM) in health care. The positives and negatives of their arguments will be reviewed. Evidence of the same will be based on the Learmouth & Harding (2007) article as well as literature from related articles.


The evidence based management as analyzed by Learmouth & Harding (2007) article presents a strong case that shows that there is reason to believe and support the research bothwriters  have accomplished to discredit the use of this approach especially in health care. Both Learmouth & Harding (2007) raise a good debate on the development of evidence based approaches to management and organization. The researchers clearly raise the issues they feel plague the use of evidence based management(EBM) in health care and in any other setting.

To Learmouth & Harding (2007), this is an approach that is a misguided aspect with the unpredictable nature of evidence in the management discipline. Also, Learmouth & Hardin (2007) have the take that evidence based management is not there to help the public service and will not at the end contribute anything meaningful to the effectiveness in organizations (Axelsson, 1998).  This is in spite of other systems such as evidence based medicine beinghailed as the best method of reducing uncertainty in clinical practice.

Learmouth & Harding (2007) opposition to the use of evidence based management(EBM) in organizational setting raises and opens the reader’s eyes to a major issue in their debate-arriving at an agreement on evidence. One is made to agree with Learmouth & Harding (2007) debate that it is one thing to reach a consensus in medicine and other fields and another in reaching the same in social sciences so as to flag the appropriateness of the use of evidence based management(EBM) in health care. Such techniques as the use of the evidence based medicine has worked well but this should not be the assumption in all the cases as highlighted by Learmouth & Harding (2007). The fact that the two researchers also disapprove of generalizations in the different approaches is a positive aspect in the research.

The reasons the two give is valid in that the cause and effect connections that are there in organizational research are not in any way readily subject to controlled experiments such as those in medicine. However, there is an oversight and thus a disadvantage in Learmouth & Harding (2007) debate.

One can counter their opposition to the generalization point on the use of evidence based management(EBM)in that where the presence of clear necessitates the establishment of decision making rules which the scientific community is able to endorse. Learmouth & Harding (2007) would want their readers to believe that a solution to finding a cause and effect connection in organizational settings does not exist but this is not the case (Parker, 2001).This is a side that is missing in their debate in that over the years, there has been the establishment of consensus around the use of constructive reviews and meta-analysis in order to identify the convergent findings in the organizational research and the boundary conditions.

Learmouth & Harding (2007) do not leave any option to the reader to see a chance in the establishment of a movement towards evidence based management which would even be capable of fostering great attention to the convergent findings and their implications to practice and science. One feels that Learmouth & Harding (2007) are advocating and supporting the continued fragmentation and novelty in the current organizational research. By focusing on the high consensus areas, there will be a chance for EBM (evidence based management) to have efforts directed towards accounting for divergence and inconsistency in the areas of limited convergence in organizational research(Linstead & Grafton-Small, 1992).

Managerialism is also another major issue that Learmouth & Harding (2007) raise with the use of Evidence Based Management (EBM).  The researchers support the opposition to the use of the same in such systems as organizations. According to Learmouth & Harding (2007), the use of EBM supports and reinforces Managerialism. The evidence based approaches are used to reinforce the managerial power with some forms of legitimized forms of evidence while they obscure non-managerial ways of understanding organizational life.

One can associate with such an argument in that the evidence given by Learmouth & Harding (2007) is that there have been long standing workplace ethnographies which have stood to benefit organizations by such acts as exposing power, inequality and conflicts in the organizations (Kovner et al., 2000).  Thus elements such as Managerialism have no chance of prospering in such an environment. This greatly benefits the organization.

However, there is a downside to the evaluation of only one side of the effect of EBM as far as Managerialism is concerned. The evidence by Learmouth & Harding (2007) is hinged on bias on whether there has been enough inquiry to the effective ways of organizing and managing based on less non-traditional and hierarchical view of workers, governance and employment (Ferlie et al., 2001). It is not justifiable to brush off EBM on managerialism basis since the same would serve as a counterforce to the self- serving and arbitrariness bias observed in the form firms are managed and organized nowadays (Parker, 2001). Any innovation can be affected in that it can be misused. Evidence of such is the presence of a regulation in the use of evidence based medicine in the UK National Health Service. However, the use of EBM can act as the basis to develop effective organizational and professional competencies (Harris, 1998).

Learmouth & Harding (2007) are wary of the role that EBM may come to acquire in terms of power. The two are skeptic of the fact that EBM may become an avenue that serves interests. This shows how Learmouth & Harding (2007) have put a great deal of effort into all the aspects that may hinder the smooth operation of such programs as EBM in health care.

As researchers, they have succeeded in evaluating all the angles of a research issue. Learmouth & Harding (2007) show that it would be naïve to not think of politics as the same are pervasive and real. Such an aspect as the development and implementation of EBM to organization and management can affect such issues as how legitimacy, funding  and influence is allocated to such groups as practitioners, teachers and scholars. Management is free of such aspects such as social and political interests as well as moral considerations.  However, true as this may be and a correct inference by Learmouth & Harding (2007), power and politics cannot be avoided.

The real problem that Learmouth & Harding (2007) seem to be wary of is that qualitative research may not be able to meet the evidentiary standards that EBM may incorporate and employ (Linstead & Grafton-Small, 1992).   Also, Learmouth & Harding (2007) seem to be wary that qualitative research may be devalued which will result in the decline of legitimacy as well as its funding. Evidence cannot be said to be of particular measure or method social science uses.

As opposed to Learmouth & Harding (2007) hesitation with unobstructed power in the use of EBM, this may not be the case as qualitative research is a sure way of identifying the areas in science that are not clear. Qualitative research is capable of being put into practice to identify the meanings underlying the observed patterns and also in helping to translate the evidence into practice through exploration of the politics, subjectivity and the conflicts that are involved in the changes to organizational practice (Carter, 2000).


The implementation and the design of the EBM is not an aspect that should be generalized and opposed without full evaluation. The implementation as well as the design of EBM should be subject to critical inquiry. The critique by Learmouth & Harding (2007) evades some aspects and in doing so mislead the audience. There is no denying that EBM may affect all the management aspects but the same should not be a reason to abandon the approach. There should and will be movements towards EBM which involve many of the community that are interested in the design of the same. There will be development, implementation, learning and redesign over time. Fear of loss should not hinder the focus for the opportunity on constructive change.


Axelsson , R . 1998 . ‘ Towards an Evidence-based Health Care Management ’ , International   Journal of Health Planning and Management , 13 , 307 – 17 .

Ferlie , E . , J . Gabbay , L . Fitzgerald , et al . 2001 . ‘ Evidence-based Medicine and     Organisational Change: an Overview of Some Recent Qualitative Research ’ , in L .        Ashburner ( ed .), Organisational Behaviour and Organisational Studies in Health Care:       Refl ections on the Future . Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, pp . 18 – 42 .

Carter , J . 2000 . ‘ New Public Management and Equal Opportunities in the NHS ’ , Critical     Social Policy , 20 , 61 – 83 .

Harrison , S . 1998 . ‘ The Politics of Evidence-based Medicine ’ , Policy and Politics , 26 , 15 –            31 .

Kovner , A . R . , J . J . Elton and J . Billings . 2000 . ‘ Evidence-based Management ’ , Frontiers          of Health Services Management , 16 , 3 – 24 .

Linstead , S . and R . Grafton-Small . 1992 . ‘ On Reading Organizational Culture ’ ,      Organization Studies , 13 , 331 – 55 .

Parker , M . 2002 . Against Management: Organization in the Age of Managerialism .     Cambridge : Polity Press

Learmouth, M., & Harding, N. (April 01, 2007). Evidence-based management: The very            idea. Sage Public Administration Abstracts, 34, 1.)

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