The Origins of Lewin's Three-Step Model of Change



Burnes B (2020) The Origins of Lewin's Three-Step Model of Change. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 56 (1), pp. 32-59.

At the time of his death in 1947, Kurt Lewin was seen as one of the foremost psychologists of his day. He is now best known for his Three Step Model of Change. However, this has been criticised for its ‘simplicity’ and it has even been suggested that Lewin ‘never developed such a model’, yet this ignores its links to the rest of Lewin’s work. Surprisingly, there appears to have been no rigorous attempt to understand the connection between Lewin’s early work on field theory and his later work on social and organisational change. In addressing this gap in the Lewin literature, this article will show not only that the Three Step Model of Change is far from being simplistic, but also that it was a well-thought-out approach to change based on his development of field theory. The main difference between the two is one of nomenclature rather than substance.

Kurt Lewin; Three Step Model; Field Theory; Group Dynamics; Action Research

Journal of Applied Behavioral Science: Volume 56, Issue 1

Publication date31/03/2020
Publication date online18/12/2018
Date accepted by journal13/11/2019