Reviewers in the Media Management and Economics Division of the AEJMC awarded the Best Paper Abstract for the 2014 AEJMC Midwinter conference to a paper titled “Evidence-Based Management as a Decision Making Tool for Media Managers.” This paper was written by Nate Fisher and Elanie Steyn of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma. Nate is a graduate student in the College and Elanie is an associate professor of journalism with a research and teaching focus in media management and leadership. The paper is an extension of a graduate paper Nate originally did for a class in media management that Elanie offered in Fall 2013.

The paper focuses on decision making as a vital management competency for managers across various industries, not least so media managers in a constantly-changing media environment. The authors discuss the variety of decision-making orientations available to managers and outline whether these are the best management tools for time- and resource-pressed media managers to realistically improve decision making processes and outcomes.

Against this background, the authors then suggest Evidence-Based Management (EBM) as a particular decision-making paradigm that might be both applicable and beneficial to media organizations, as this has already proven to be the case in the education, business management and health industries. The authors explain how media managers (when using relevant and current literature/research to make management decisions across a variety of scenarios) they will be able to examine the logic behind a decision, encourage and cultivate an atmosphere of experimentation in which they test ideas before fully implementing it and reinforce continuous learning among managers.

The authors go on to show that EBM can provide a number of advantages over more conventional decision-making practices, especially in the areas of work-life balance, recruitment and training of employees, the use of incentives in compensation packages, the overreliance on strategic planning and institution of organizational change. These aspects all potentially benefit decision making in media firms that operate in an environment of fragmented media and dwindling per-person allocation for media channels, increased competition and media convergence. The authors outline how EBM can help media managers design personnel policies, recruitment and training programs, compensation and benefits packages, and make other decisions that would give them a competitive advantage over those who do not implement this approach.

Congratulations to our fellow scholars from the University of Oklahoma – Nate Fisher and Elanie Steyn!