Using Intervention Research to Adopt Evidence-Based Management as a Practical Leadership Capability


  • Robert Alan Young


How could strategic decision-makers in the public sector determine whether System 1 or System 2 thinking would be most effective? How could a leader’s readiness to adopt evidence-based management be assessed? What organizational intervention could a public sector organization apply to integrate evidence-based management to strengthen strategic decision-making?

 A design-based case study employed an analytic workflow that included observations of team workshops to surface coded indicators of critical thinking. Additionally, heuristic-based questions during interviews with a purposeful sampling of leaders, managers, and employees explored the shared experiences throughout the intervention. Applied nexus analysis and interdiscursivity informed the content in the next phase with a deeper understanding of where shared perspectives aligned and where disconnects existed. The approach generated insights to inform the planning of subsequent workshops.

 The leaders in this study were found to rely instinctively on their non-expert intuitions (System 1) rather than seek to supplement their perspectives with data, information, or other perspectives (System 2) when facing new challenges. Practitioners face a challenge in seeing the relevance of evidence-based approaches to solving their strategic problems. Furthermore, the value of an interventional framework (with nexus analysis and interdiscursivity) as a change management approach was beneficial. This study showed the benefit of focusing on the relevance of the results and the intended audience, recognizing that perhaps all or only some of the findings may be helpful to others in different settings.