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Kurt Lewin's field theory:a review and re-evaluation

Burnes, Bernard and Cooke, Bill (2013) Kurt Lewin's field theory:a review and re-evaluation. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15 (4). pp. 408-425. ISSN 1460-8545

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Abstract

Field theory was central to Kurt Lewin's work yet, after his death, interest in it declined significantly until the 1990s when a variant, force field analysis, became widely used. This paper examines the origins, purpose and continuing relevance of field theory. It especially looks at the influences of gestalt psychology, topology and Ernst Cassirer's philosophy of science on its development. It argues that Lewin's attempt to replace conventional topology with his own Lewinian mathematics-based topology in pursuit of scientific rigour resulted in the undermining of its relevance. The paper also compares force field analysis with Lewin's original conception of field theory and shows that it has significant weaknesses in terms of rigour. It concludes that a return to Lewin's original conception of field theory, based on gestalt psychology and conventional topology, can provide academics and practitioners with a valuable and much-needed approach to managing change.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Management Reviews
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Departments: Lancaster University Management School > Organisation, Work & Technology
ID Code: 59089
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 10 Oct 2012 14:06
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2013 15:46
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/59089

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