EBM and EB-HR
The Evidence-Based Management (EBM) ‘movement’ was slowly gathering pace until the recession of 2008 provided the sort of spur it needed to provide real momentum. This dedicated ‘blog-book’, written as a series of interwoven rather than sequential instalments, maintains a very clear focus on applying EBM principles to the management of people – hence Evidence-Based HR – or EB-HR for short.
Although the field is still fragmented and in need of better definition one key, emerging aspect is that evidence-based management is actually more about people management than it is about operational management. To suggest that operational managers are non-evidence-based when they are measuring output, production, costs, quality and profits is misleading. The need for a better evidence-base is most keenly felt where the business issues are complex and not amenable to simple measures and this is particularly true in the area of human capital measurement and management. This realisation has helped EB-HR to pass the early adopter phase and serious HR professionals are now having to declare where they stand – you are either evidence-based or you are not. New books are regularly being added to the EB-HR list (see Book Reviews here) and many consultancies are having to acknowledge, at last, that their claims need to be supported by convincing evidence.
So this site comprises evidence-based critiques of academic management research, existing HR management policies and practices (that are in the public domain) together with proposals for better, simpler ways of making HR strategy evidence-based. Along the way all key terms will be very tightly defined. Ultimately, if the ‘evidence’ is not telling us anything about value creation then it is, by definition, value-less or worthless.
This EB-HR dedicated site will also invite subscribers to submit their own examples of HR policies (the good, the bad and the ugly) so that they can be scrutinised by others and between us we might develop a much more robust approach to HR management that can accurately be described as evidence-based.
The case for a General HR Council
One of the other motivations for establishing this site is the need for much higher professional standards amongst HR and learning practitioners. It is has been a very long-held view of mine that a General HR Council needs to be established that could act as the guardian of professional standards, just as the General Medical Council does for doctors. If you read the very first post in this series, ‘Why the CIPD is desperate for evidence’ , it is plain that the CIPD has failed in its professional duty, in this respect, and continues to show no appetite for improving its evidence base or its standards. Meanwhile, in the US, SHRM has appointed a Director of HR Standards (2009) and a Taskforce to deal with the same issue. I have set up a new ‘HR Standards’ blog to concentrate on tracking progress.
My next book entitled ‘HR Professional’ (due to be published early 2013) will offer a benchmark of professional standards and I am currently advising the British Standards Institute (BSI) on a response to the ISO’s efforts (International Organization for Standardization) to set international HR standards.
Interest in EB-HR is still growing in academia and a new Journal on Evidence-based HRM is being launched in 2013.
Paul Kearns (14th June 2012)