Exploring the shift to the popular evidence-based approach

Evidence-based dialectics

From Organization

A great many social scientists now advocate ‘evidence-based management’ and ‘evidence-based policy’. Their inspiration comes from the success and popularity of evidence-based medicine. This article and podcast explore the relationship between those enchanted by the evidence-based approach and their critics.


‘Evidence-based policy’ and ‘evidence-based management’ are increasingly popular ways of describing the relationship between research and practice. The majority discussing the evidence-based approach have tended to be in favour: here, ‘believers’. Yet this approach has also attracted critics: ‘heretics’. Understanding of such a division can be enhanced by dialectics: a process which tries to destabilize, reconcile or transcend apparent opposites. This divide is not simply a consequence of differences relating to epistemology, but also aesthetics: a set of reactions to the world seen as art. So, to analyse this divide requires a correspondingly rich model of dialectic. Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy offers this in its account of Apolline and Dionysian responses to the world. Dialectics supports a move beyond synchronous critique, and allows speculation as to the future development of the evidence-based approach.

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Article details
Morrell, K. (2011). Evidence-based dialectics Organization DOI: 10.1177/1350508411414229

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