Using narrative evidence synthesis in HRM research: an overview of the method, its application, and the lessons learned

Adrian Madden, Catherine Bailey, Kerstin Alfes, Luke Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The use of systematic approaches to evidence review and synthesis has recently become more common in the field of organizational research, yet their value remains unclear and largely untested. First used in medical research, evidence review is a technique for identifying, evaluating and synthesizing existing empirical evidence. With greater demand for the best evidence about ‘what works’ in organizational settings, nuanced approaches to evidence synthesis have evolved to address more complex research questions. Narrative synthesis is perceived to be particularly suited to evaluating diverse evidence types spanning multiple disciplinary fields, characteristic of the HRM domain. This article evaluates the narrative evidence synthesis approach, explains how it differs from other techniques and describes a worked example in relation to employee engagement. We consider its strengths, the challenges of using it and its value in HRM research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 641-657
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Resource Management
Issue number2
Early online date24 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Funding: National Institute for Health Research. Grant Number: 12/5004/01.


  • narrative evidence synthesis
  • employee engagement

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  • Research Output

    • 3 Commissioned report
    • 2 Article
    • 1 Conference publication
  • The meaning, antecedents and outcomes of employee engagement: a narrative synthesis

    Bailey, C., Madden, A., Alfes, K. & Fletcher, L., Jan 2017, In : International Journal of Management Reviews. 19, 1, p. 31-53 23 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • Employee engagement in the public sector: a narrative evidence synthesis

    Fletcher, L., Bailey, C., Alfes, K. & Madden, A., 9 Aug 2016, 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Anaheim CA USA, August 2016..

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference publication

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    Luke Fletcher

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