55: Group Dynamics and Foundations of Organizational Change – Kurt Lewin (Part 1)

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In this episode, we are joined by Prof. Stephen Cummings (New History of Management) to address one of the foundational works in social psychology and organizational development - “Frontiers in group dynamics: Concept, method and reality in social science; social equilibria and social change”. This was the first of two articles that Kurt Lewin published in the newly established journal Human Relations with the Tavistock Institute. In the article, Lewin makes a strong case for treating the social sciences on the same level with the natural sciences–previously, social science was considered neither rigorous nor valid. Using metaphors from physics, Lewin explains social phenomena in tangible, physical terms through constructs such as “force fields.” In doing so, he explained how individuals within a social space interact in ways that could be measured similarly to physical or chemical phenomenon. And he did so using the results of studies on rather ordinary, mundane phenonena such as training on stitching machines and the crossed interactions between a husband and wife.

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