Lewin’s Three-Stage Model of Planned Change

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External and internal pressures arising from dynamically evolving business environments inevitably and continuously create unsustainable tension between the desire for stability and the need for change within organizations (Graetz & Smith, 2010). Organizations respond to these tensions by engaging in processes of strategic renewal through the implementation of “planned change” (Spector, 2010). Planned change, according to Cummings and Worley (2009), fundamentally concerns the process of changing organizational behaviors. More specifically, new behaviors must replace old ones or be adapted to or integrated with existing behaviors to enable successful change (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2009; Schein, 1993, 2004). This paper outlines the three…show more content…
Lewin intended that action research be used to support both processes of learning in accomplishing the movement step. The learning of new behaviors, which is fundamentally “a process of cognitive restructuring” (Schein, 1993), provides a transitional bridge to the new level of performance. Cognitive restructuring involves one or more “frame braking” learning activities as new information is obtained; (a) semantic redefinition – learning new meanings for old words, (b) cognitive broadening – learning new concepts and broader interpretations of old concepts, and (c) new standards of judgment or evaluation – learning new criteria for assessment and interpretation of information (Schein, 1993). Until the movement stage creates the capability of producing “once-again confirming data”, the process continues through iterative stages of learning and exploration (Schein, 2004). Stage 3 – Refreezing Once new behaviors are learned, steps must be taken to institutionalize and reinforce performance at the new level. According to Schein (1993), these new behaviors “. . . must be, to some degree, congruent with the rest of the behavior and personality of the learner or it will set off new rounds of disconfirmation that often lead to unlearning the very thing one has learned” (p. 61). Unless refreezing occurs, internalization into new cognitive structures will be deficient, subsequently compromising the

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