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Change Management

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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
LESSON # 4
IMPLICATIONS OF KURT LEWIN MODEL
Implications of Kurt Lewin Model
1. Change can be directed, managed and controlled (Learning is a choice behaviour)
2. There is an explicit recognition to the fact that change will be resisted
3. This resistance can be overcome thru management and good leadership
4. Sequence of event also matters
5. Change Attitude ­ behaviour will follow
6. Change the context ­ behaviour will follow this implies B = f( P * E)
1. Change can be directed, managed and controlled (Learning is a choice behaviour)
Every thing is not pre-ordained and predetermined. Modern thinking is scientific or formulaic. There is
a general formula for everything with in the domain of natural sciences or social sciences. Therefore
what is known as social sciences is that tools and methods used for creating scientific knowledge can
also be applied to create knowledge in social domain. Therefore learning such type of abstract social
disciplines such as entrepreneurship, leadership, management and organization culture from scientific
approach means these very subjects can be taught and learned. So in this respect modern approach is
different from the traditional one as now learning is considered not a function of gene or inheritance but
a matter of aptitude and interest. Hence social behaviour can be managed like a thermostat or control
valve to get the desired end. For instance, these control valves may reside in financial and non-financial
techniques to motivate individual manager and groups.
2. Explicit recognition that change will be resisted
There are a lot more benefits of categorical acceptance, admission or recognition of some variable under
research. In fact research has more to do with the identification of critical variable which play influential
role in the causation of any phenomenon, and earlier was less focussed upon. Therefore once we know
and recognise that resistance to change is distinct phenomenon for study, we will also study and target
imperatively how to overcome this resistance. This is a typical technique of Western academics to
bifurcate and focus in a specialised (in depth study) manner to create new subjects and disciplines. In
other words division of labour exist in academics.
3. The resistance can be overcome through management and good leadership
As pointed out above once we know resistance is a critical variable to study simultaneously make
imperative for us to know what type o leadership and management style will over come what type of
resistance. Hence we see that change management literature most of the focuses on the participative
decision making, employee involvement, delegation, decentralization and team building etc. for
organization to manage organizational transformation and strategic management programme.
4. Sequence of event also matters
The model also depicts that change management process has a sequence to it. In order to manage
planned change we ought to know what should come first, which stage is follow another and how to
identify which change management stage we are in like a life cycle approach
5. Change attitude - behaviour will follow
First we have to seek differentiation between the two terms, attitude and behaviour. The concept
`attitude' is more comprehensive than the term behaviour which included cognitive as well action
orientation while behaviour is defined only in action perspective. Therefore going by this approach in
order to have meaningful change we have to change first attitude. Hence change in cognition will lead to
behavioural change. Alternate approach could be to change action which will eventually lead to
attitudinal change. Here focal point for change is actions since actions are visible and measurable. The
former change method is democratic in spirit while later is autocratic in nature. There is a flaw from
methodological point of view, to measure change; the dominant paradigm of western social sciences is
to target action. For instance scientific school of theory building (by and large rely on quantitative
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
approach or survey method) it is the action which is the source of data and evidence, intent cannot be
measured. From Islamic perspective of human behaviour it is the intent (Niyyat) which matters most not
the action (Amal) as the famous hadith goes - action depend upon intents (innamul aamal-o-binniyaat).
This is somewhat closer to the recently researched concept of equi-finality which means different
actions can be taken or multiple practices can exist to reach the same intent effectively.
6. Change the context ­ behaviour will follow [B = f (P * E)]
Environmental forces play decisive role in shaping behaviour, is the key theme of the equation cited.
Change in behaviour is owing to a particular context or situation. This relies on contingency school of
management which means organizational efficiency and effectiveness is contingent upon environmental
factors ­ will be different for different organizations. These factors could be size, type of industry,
technology, etc. If environmental or contextual factors are so powerful and decisive to explain change or
stability then does that mean individual (individual organization) has least or no role, priority, discretion
or strategy in deciding for change. This leads us to the debates between fatalism vs. determinism, the
role of individual vs. institution and the universal vs. cultural perspectives of management. Context
again comprises of multiple facets Historical ­social-political ­geographical ­ cultural context
A Critical Look
No human knowledge is foolproof. Theories have good explanation power and associated weaknesses
too. Though Kurt Lewin model widely quoted and respected but also has attracted some criticism which
follows as under:
1. Linearity assumption. It is assumed that change is considered linear while we see in real life it is
seldom linearity based. Reality more often than not is non-linear or curvilinear. There may be ups and
downs in reality, and hence change management is not as neat and sequential process as described in the
model, directly progressing for goals or end state.
2. Progressive state assumption. Change makes a direct progression, that is, future state is always better
than the present state. This is an assumption may not hold valid especially going by the human,
organizational and nations life cycle theory based explanation.
3. Mechanistic assumption. This is based on cause and effect relationship amongst factors considered
stimuli for change. This is too excessively deterministic in its implications meaning thereby no or little
role for unforeseen and emergent events.
4. Goal Assumption. Here change movement is directed toward a specific end-state (in real life may be
haphazard). In real life people are not all the time purposive and task oriented for each and every
movement. People may value leisure, relationship, spiritual and cultural being, or they may like change
for the sake of change ­ as others are changing so one wants to change (life style or social pressure
oriented but might not be need-specific). Similarly people may want to change because emotional or
psychological aspect may be dominant
5. Separateness assumption. Change movement is planned and managed by people by staying apart from
system while real life operates in relative terms and diagnosis and implementation is by remaining
within the system. There are biases and ethnocentrism involved in all stages of change management
process.
Nonetheless despite the above criticism the model is considered to have seminal influence on
behavioural modification, learning and change management literature. Other similar models given under
also verify the Lewinian model and change management strategies. For example according to Beckhard
& Harris (1977) there are three stages of change management process
1. The Current State
2. The Transition state
3. The Future State
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
Kanter at al, proposed three phases as:
1. Change Strategists
2. Change Implementers
3. Change Recipients
Grimley et al & Prochaska et al conceived the following by adding one stage as pre-contemplation
1. Pre-contemplation (Unaware of need to change)
2. Contemplation (Need to change but no commitment)
3. Action
4. Maintenance
More or less in similar meanings Lynn A. Isabella's Model suggested
1. Anticipation
2. Confirmation
3. Culmination
4. Aftermath
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