Change Theory Kurt Lewin Date of last revision September 12, 2011

INTRODUCTION
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Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) is considered as the father of social psychology He was born in Germany, later emigrated to the US. He is well known for his writings on group dynamics, group therapy and social psychology. Kurt Lewin introduced his field theory concepts, emphasizing that the group differs from the simple sum of its parts. Lewin coined the term group dynamics in 1939. His field theory states that "one s behavior is related both to one s personal characteristics and to the social situation in which one finds oneself."

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LEWIN"S CHANGE THEORY
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His most influencial theory was his model of the change process in human systems. Kurt Lewin theorized a three-stage model of change that is known as the unfreezing-changerefreeze model that requires prior learning to be rejected and replaced. Lewin's theory states behavior as "a dynamic balance of forces working in opposing directions. "

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CONCEPTS Driving forces
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Driving forces are forces that push in a direction that causes change to occur. Driving forces facilitate change because they push the person in the desired direction. They cause a shift in the equilibrium towards change.

Restraining forces
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Restraining forces are forces that counter driving forces. Restraining forces hinder change because they push the person in the opposite direction.

so that it now becomes the standard operating procedure. or all three. o y y First. Refreezing y Refreezing is establishing the change as a new habit. it is easy to go back to the old ways y . decrease the restraining forces that negatively affect the movement from the existing equilibrium. Unfreezing y Unfreezing is the process which involves finding a method of making it possible for people to let go of an old pattern that was counterproductive in some way. feeling. find a combination of the two methods listed above. y STAGES Consists of three distinct and vital stages: 1. Unfreezing is necessary to overcome the strains of individual resistance and group conformity. Unfreezing can be achieved by the use of three methods. 3. Without this stage of refreezing. Third. Moving to a new level or Changing or Movement y This stage involves a process of change in thoughts. increase the driving forces that direct behavior away from the existing situation or status quo. o o 2. that is in some way more liberating or more productive.y Restraining forces cause a shift in the equilibrium which opposes change Equilibrium y Equilibrium is a state of being where driving forces equal restraining forces and no change occurs Equilibrium can be raised or lowered by changes that occur between the driving and restraining forces. Second. behavior.

This step needs to take place after the change has been implemented in order for it to be sustained or ´stickµ over time. First. powerful leaders that also support the change The third step of Lewin·s three-step change model is refreezing. Second. Unfreezing is necessary to overcome the strains of individual resistance and group conformity. it is necessary to move the target system to a new level of equilibrium. relevant information. The status quo is considered the equilibrium state. Unfreezing can be achieved by the use of three methods. Therefore. The purpose of refreezing is to stabilize the new equilibrium resulting from the change by balancing both the driving and restraining forces. Specifically. Driving forces facilitate change because they push employees in the desired direction. find a combination of the two methods listed above. Three actions that can assist in the movement step include: persuading employees to agree that the status quo is not beneficial to them and encouraging them to view the problem from a fresh perspective. Lewin·s second step in the process of changing behavior is movement. Restraining forces hinder change because they push employees in the opposite direction. This social scientist views behavior as a dynamic balance of forces working in opposing directions. One action that can be used to implement Lewin·s third step is to reinforce new patterns and institutionalize them through formal and informal mechanisms including policies and procedures (Robbins 564-65). increase the driving forces that direct behavior away from the existing situation or status quo. It is high likely that the change will be short lived and the employees will revert to their old equilibrium (behaviors) if this step is not taken. In this step. change will occur when the combined strength of one force is greater than the combined strength of the opposing set of forces (Robbins 564-65) . Lewin·s model illustrates the effects of forces that either promote or inhibit change. work together on a quest for new. build trust and recognition for the need to change. Therefore. the first step in the process of changing behavior is to unfreeze the existing situation or status quo. driving forces promote change while restraining forces oppose change. these forces must be analyzed and Lewin·s three-step model can help shift the balance in the direction of the planned change According to Lewin. and actively participate in recognizing problems and brainstorming solutions within a group (Robbins 564-65). decrease the restraining forces that negatively affect the movement from the existing equilibrium. Some activities that can assist in the unfreezing step include: motivate participants by preparing them for change. and connect the views of the group to well-respected.Kurt Lewin (1951) introduced the three-step change model. Hence. It is the actual integration of the new values into the community values and traditions. Third.

The clinic was founded in 1920 as an outpatient facility to provide psychotherapy and insights from the treatment of battle neurosis in World War I. This workshop was sponsored by the Connecticut Interracial Commission and the Research Center for Group Dynamics. Kurt Lewin and his students conducted numerous action research projects in the mid-1940s and early 1950s. and employee in the context of his own job. in the summer of 1946 influenced the emergence of laboratory training. and his own work relationships. Action Research Stem Participant action research. The results of this experimental study lend support to the idea that an intensive. In particular. supervisor.Whyte and Edith L.Hamilton used action research in their work with Chicago·s Tremont Hotel in 1945 publication. Sociotechnical and Socioclinical Stem A fourth stem in the history of OD is the evolution of socioclinical and sociotechnical approaches to helping groups and organizations. is used with the most frequency in OD. The laboratory training stem in the history of OD has a heavy component of action research. It revolves around the techniques and approach developed over a period of years by staff members at the Survey Research Center (SRC) of University of Michigan. his own problems. Survey Research and Feedback Survey research and feedback. William F. essentially unstructured small-group situations in which participants learn from their own actions. It began to develop about 1946 from various experiments in using discussion groups to achieve changes in behavior in back-home situations.The Laboratory Training Stem Laboratory training. the survey feedback stem is the history of a specialized form of action research. group discussion procedure for utilizing the results of an employee questionnaire survey can be an effective tool for introducing positive change in a business organization. A group focus emerged early in the work of Tavistock . an Inter-Group Relations workshop held at the State Teachers College in New Britain. a specialized form of action research constitutes the second major stem in the history of organization development.the work of these and other scholars and practitioners in inventing and utilizing action research was basic in the evolution of OD. Connecticut. and Tavistock projects have had a strong action research thrust. then at MIT. It deals with the system of human relationships as a whole (superior and subordinate can change together) and it deals with each manager.

and communities.in the context of family therapy in which the child and the parent received treatment simultaneously. organizations. The action research mode also emerged at Tavistock in attempts to give practical help to families. .