Is HRM evidence-based and does it matter?

Rob Briner | Opinion Paper OP6 | Institute for Employment Studies | Feb 2007

From fortune-tellers to football managers and from homeopaths to home secretaries, all practitioners tend to believe quite strongly that what they do is based on evidence. To challenge this belief is likely to provoke a reaction somewhere between mild puzzlement and deep offence in most practitioners.

In these respects, HR practitioners are probably no different. Of course what is done is based firmly on evidence isn't it? And, there's plenty of firm evidence around isn't there? To even speculate about whether the work of HR is evidence-based can just seem plain silly, a little stupid, and even somewhat insulting.

To view it as a stupid question is, however, to misunderstand some fundamental issues around how practitioners actually practice, what evidence-based practice is, and the nature of the evidence for HRM.

This paper explores these issues in order to make the case that while HR has made great progress in starting to engage with evidence it still has some way to go, as a profession and practice, before it can truly claim to be evidence-based.