Planned organisational change management: Forward to the past? An exploratory literature review

David Rosenbaum*, Elizabeth More, Peter Steane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify the development of planned organisational change models (POCMs) since Lewin’s three-step model and to highlight key linkages between them.

Design/methodology/approach: A total of 13 commonly used POCMs were identified and connections with Lewin’s three-step framework and associated process attributes were made, reflecting the connections between these models and Lewin.

Findings: The findings show that first Lewin’s three-step model represents a framework for planned change; however, these steps could not be viewed in isolation of other interrelated processes, including action research, group dynamics, and force field analysis. These process steps underpin the iterative aspects of his model. Second, all 13 POCMs have clearly identified linkages to Lewin, suggesting that the ongoing development of POCMs is more of an exercise in developing ongoing procedural steps to support change within the existing framework of the three-step model.

Research limitations/implications: The authors recognise that the inclusion of additional POCMs would help strengthen linkages to Lewin. The findings from this paper refocus attention on the three-step model, suggesting its ongoing centrality in planned organisational change rather than it being dismissed as an historical approach from which more recently developed models have become more relevant.

Practical implications: This paper presents opportunities for organisational change management researchers to challenge their thinking with regard to the ongoing search for model refinement, and for practitioners in the design and structure of POCM.

Originality/value: An analysis of the ongoing relevance of Lewin and his linkage with modern POCMs assist in rationalising the broadening, and often confusing literature on change. This paper therefore not only contributes to filtering such literature, but also helps clarify the myriad of POCMs and their use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-303
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Australian Nonprofit Organisations


  • Change models
  • Evolution of change
  • Lewin change model
  • Planned organisational change


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