Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Lecture 30th October - Professor Bernard Burnes

Kurt Lewin’s Field Theory

Bernard Burnes

‘The recognition of the huge power of situation, context, priming, and construal is common ground. We are all Lewinians now, and in the context of policy behavioural economists are Lewinian as well’ (Kahneman (2013: ix).

Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) was one of the leading psychologists of his generation.  His work provided the foundations of organization development (OD) and is still considered by many as central to contemporary approaches to change.  An understanding of Lewin’s field theory is central to understanding his approach to change.  Lewin argued that behaviour is derived from the totality of coexisting and interdependent forces that impinge on a person or group and make up the field (life space) in which the behaviour takes place. This seminar will examine the origins, purpose and continuing relevance of field theory. It especially looks at the influences of Gestalt psychology and topology on its development. It will be argued that field theory can provide academics and practitioners with a valuable and much-needed approach to managing behavioural change.


Burnes, B and Cooke, B (2012) Kurt Lewin's Field Theory: A Review and Re-evaluation.  International Journal of Management Reviews, published online 6 September 2012 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2012.00348.x.

Kahneman, D (2013) Foreword.  In E Shafir (Ed): The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

Date and Time: October 30th 2pm - 3pm 

Venue: TBA 

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