Organizational and Individual Determinants of Evidence Use by Managers In Public Human Service Organizations


Promoting the use of evidence by managers is a strategy for enhancing effectiveness in human service organizations, and for responding to the demands of performance management. This study addresses two multipart questions. First, what levels of managerial evidence use exist in public human service organizations and for what purposes is this evidence used? Second, what organizational factors and individual attitudinal characteristics are associated with different levels of evidence use? Based on survey data from a sample of administrators, middle managers, and supervisors in 11 county public human service organizations located in the San Francisco Bay Area, we find that managers are engaged in evidence use at moderate levels. They are most engaged in reviewing agency reports, searching for research literature and other evidence, and using online resources to identify promising practices. Evidence use is found to be positively associated with having access to performance measurement systems, being an administrator, and being innovation minded and responsive to organizational change. Our findings suggest that evidence use by human service managers may be contingent on organizational resources, organizational role, and individual attitudes. These results underscore the importance of training human service managers in evidence-informed practice in order to promote agencywide knowledge utilization and organizational effectiveness.

McBeath, B.
Jolles, M.P.
Carnochan, S.
Austin, M.J.
Publication date: 
June 1, 2015
Publication type: 
Journal Article