“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Ghandi
The theoretical foundations of change theory are robust: several theories now exist, many coming from the disciplines of sociology, psychology, education, and organizational management. Kurt Lewin (1890 – 1947) has been acknowledged as the “father of social change theories” and presents a simple yet powerful model to begin the study of change theory and processes. He is also lauded as the originator of social psychology, action research, as well as organizational development.
Lewin's change theory consists of three distinct and vital stages:
• Moving to a New Level or Changing
“Unfreezing”- involves finding a method of making it possible for people to let go of an old pattern that was counterproductive in some way.
"Moving to a new level" - involves a process of change--in thoughts, feelings, behavior, or all three, that is in some way more liberating or more productive.
"Refreezing" - is establishing the change as a new habit, so that it now becomes the "standard operating procedure." Without some process of refreezing, it is easy to backslide into the old ways.
Change Model Categories
In general, three categories of change models exist: empirical-rationale, power-coercive, and normative-educative models (see table 1 below).
Change Model Paradigm Characteristics
Power Coercive Leader orders change, subordinates comply
Change agent must have authority
Origin of regulations and laws
May be used to force a change, ie: desegregation laws
May fail due to high resistance
Empirical Rationale Emphasis on Reason and Knowledge
Based on premise that people will change once they realize it serves their rationale self interest
Recipients are not actively involved in change process but are educated about the values
Often used for technological change
Ignores beliefs, feelings, values
Normative Educative Change only... [continues]
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