Kurt Lewin was an influential psychologist who is today recognized as the founder of modern social psychology. His research on group dynamics, experiential learning, and action research had a tremendous influence on the growth and development of social psychology. He is also recognized for his important contributions in the areas of applied psychology and organizational psychology. In a 2002 review of some of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, Lewin was ranked as the 18th most eminent psychologist.

"There is nothing so practical as a good theory." —Kurt Lewin

He originally began his studies with an interest in behaviourism, but he later developed an interest in Gestalt psychology. He served in the German army and was later injured in combat. These early experiences had a major impact on the development of his field theory and later study of group dynamics.

The Kurt Lewin, change theory model, is based around a 3-step process (Unfreeze-Change-Freeze) that provides a high-level approach to improvement. It gives a manager or other change agent a framework to implement a change effort, which is always very sensitive and should be as seamless as possible.

The Kurt Lewin change theory or model can help a leader do the following three steps:

·       Make a radical change (innovation)

·       Minimise the disruption of the structure’s operations

·       Make sure that the amendment is adopted permanently


Lewin change model – Unfreeze – “ready to change.”

When a structure has been in place for a while, habits and routine have naturally settled in. The organisation as a whole is going in the right direction. But, as shown in the illustration, people or processes may have strayed off course. For example, tasks that are not relevant or useful anymore are still being performed by force of habit, without anyone questioning their legitimacy. Similarly, people might have learned to do things one way, without considering other, more efficient methods. Unfreezing means getting people to gain perspective on their day-to-day activities, unlearn their bad habits, and open up to new ways of reaching their objectives. The current practices and processes have to be reassessed for the wheels of change to be set in motion.

Lewin change model – Change – “Implementation.”

Once team members have opened up their minds, change can start. The change process can be a very dynamic one and, if it is to be effective, it will probably take some time and involve a transition period.

To gain efficiency, people will have to take on new tasks and responsibilities, which entails a learning curve that will look at first slow the organisation down.

A change process has to be viewed as an investment. This process is both in terms of time and the allocation of resources. After the new organisation and procedures have been rolled out, inevitable chaos might ensue, but that is the price to pay to attain enhanced effectiveness within the structure.

Lewin change model – Freeze (sometimes called refreeze)- “Making it stick.”

The change will only reach its full effect if it’s made permanent. Once the organisational changes have been made and the structure has regained its effectiveness, every effort must be made to cement them and make sure the new organisation becomes the standard. More changes can be made later on. Still, once the structure has found a way to improve the way it conducts its operations, “re-freezing” will allow the people to thrive in the new organisation and take full advantage of the change. Many quote the model as saying the third step of this approach is to re-freeze when in Lewin’s original work it was “freeze”.

Theoretical implications

The findings of this study show that leadership style and employee involvement in change is encouraging step for change process of organization. However, the effect of Kurt Lewin’s model is indirect through separate phases in the process. The transformational leadership style has been studies as the most important factor for change process in prior studies (Gong, Huang, & Farh, 2009). This paper associates positive impact of leadership style on change process. This study illustrates the effect of leadership style in terms of employee involvement in change, motivating employee for change, share the knowledge at individual and organizational level to make the loop of the change process. At each phase of the process model, the leaders and employees are considered to be one unit, and each phase will be shifted to the next step of the Kurt model.

Social implications

This study has significant social implications. The key factors that can encourage change in organization with swap of rewards and recognitions bring significant social implications for enhancing the organizational change process. This study has examined (1) the dominant role of leadership and employee involvement in change process necessary for bringing effective change in management,(2) the study explored a significant connection of knowledge sharing in change process with employees and leaders in implementing the change process,(3)the management should focus on the leadership style in change process, and finally (4) the review shows a framework of links among leadership to employees involvement, sharing knowledge and provides an insight to practitioners that how leader behavior relates to involvement and sharing knowledge in Lewin’s change model context.