Betty Neuman’s Systems Model In Nursing Sample College Essay

General Description of the Theory


The nursing theory under analysis is Neuman systems model developed in 1970 by Betty Neuman, a counselor, professor, and community health nurse. This theory belongs to the middle-range nursing theories, as it includes enough variables to provide a solid abstract description of phenomena and, at the same time, it can be verified through testing and guides nursing practice strategies and theory-based research (Flaherty, 2013).

Theorist’s Background

Betty Neuman was born in 1924 in Lowel, Ohio. Betty’s father was a farmer who died from the chronic renal disease when she was eleven years old. Betty’s mother was a midwife who became the first inspiration for her to devote her life to medicine in general and nursing in particular. Thus, her childhood taught her the value of responsibility and self-reliance that laid the basis for her future nursing career (“Betty Neuman,” 2013).

From the early age, she was interested in the concepts of human behavior. During the World War II, she worked as an aircraft technician but later, she decided to join the Cadet Nursing Corps program focused on providing accelerated nursing education. After eighteen months of training, in 1947, she graduated from People’s Hospital School of Nursing in Akron, Ohio, with honors and obtained the diploma as a Registered Nurse (“Betty Neuman,” 2013).

After visiting her relatives in California, Betty decided to start her career there. She changed multiple professions. She worked as a head nurse at Los Angeles County General Hospital, a school nurse, an industrial nurse, and a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles (UCLA) specializing in the areas of communicable diseases, critical care, and medical-surgical nursing. In 1957, Betty completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with a double major in psychology and public health from UCLA. In a short time, she married and helped her husband establish his medical practice. Her only child was born in 1959 (“Betty Neuman,” 2013).

In 1966, Betty completed her Master of Science in public health consultation and mental health from UCLA. In half a year, she was hired as a department chair in the graduate program at UCLA. Her teaching methods were highly evaluated, and she decided to develop a nursing model. She did not write a book at that time yet, but she had already developed her concepts known to Sr. Callista Roy and Joan Riehl-Sisca who mentioned them in their book called Conceptual Models of Nursing Practice in 1971.

Then, in 1972, Betty published an article entitled “A model for teaching total person approach to patient problems” which served as a draft of her model. For ten years, she was refining her concepts and finally, in 1982, she published her book called “The Neuman System Model: Application to Nursing Education and Practice” (“Betty Neuman,” 2013).

In 1985, Betty received a doctorate from Pacific Western University in clinical psychology. Being the first who defined nursing roles in mental health, Donna Aquilina and Betty Neuman created a position of a nurse counselor in Los Angeles community crisis centers. In 1988, Betty founded the Neuman Systems Model Trustees Group, Inc. which focused on the preservation of her nursing theory for the community. In 2009, she resigned from the position of the director but still serves as a consultant (“Betty Neuman,” 2013).

Thus, being interested in human behavior from her childhood and being inspired by her mother’s profession as a midwife, Betty Neuman firmly decided that she would devote her life to the nursing profession, and her experiences as a nurse only reinforced her determination. Her model was also influenced by the works of the philosophers Cornu and de Chardin on wholeness in the system, the biologist Von Bertalanffy and the philosopher László on their general system theory, the psychologist Lazarus on his stress and coping theory, and the endocrinologist Seyle on his stress theory (Flaherty, 2013).

The authors who first mentioned Betty Neuman’s Systems Model were Sr. Callista Roy and Joan Riehl-Sisca in 1971, which was a crucial reference to her work. After Neuman’s theory was recognized, numerous researchers began referring to it and using it in the studies and practices. One of the most prominent of them was Jacqueline Fawcett who referred to Betty Neuman’s Systems Model multiple times in her studies beginning from 1982 (Flaherty, 2013).

Theory Overview

The Neuman Systems Model regards the client as an open system that responds to the environment in general and various stressors in it in particular. The client variables are spiritual, developmental, sociocultural, psychological, and physiological. The client system comprises the basic structure which is protected by lines of resistance (“The Neuman Systems Model,” 2013).

Stressors are extra-, intra-, and interpersonal and occur from the created, internal, and external environments. The standard level of health is determined as the normal line of defense (LOD) which is under the protection of the flexible line of defense. When stressors breach the flexible line of defense, the invasion of the system has occurred, and the activation of the lines of resistance begins, thereby resulting in the system moving towards a disease on an illness-wellness continuum. Thus, if there is enough energy, the system along with the normal line of defense will be restored at, above, or below their previous level (“The Neuman Systems Model,” 2013).

Theory Description


In her theory, Betty Neuman uses deductive reasoning. In general, deductive reasoning starts with a certain principle, then provides specific examples and checks whether the idea applies to them. Thus, Neuman claims that the purpose of nursing is to facilitate the stability of client system, analyzes stressors and how the client responds to them and provides specific examples of her ideas concerning these issues (“The Neuman Systems Model,” 2013).

Major Concepts of the Theory

Major concepts of Betty Neuman’s Systems Model include:

  • Content (the person’s variables in interaction with the external and internal environment encompass the whole system).
  • Central core

    • The common factors of client survival in unique characteristics represent basic system energy resources.
    • The basic structure consists of the normal temperature range, ego structure, organ weakness or strength, response pattern, and genetic structure.
    • Homeostasis happens when there is more energy than the system is using.
    • A homeostatic body system is always in a quick process of compensation, feedback, output, and input, which lead to balance (Turner & Kaylor, 2015).

  • A degree to reaction (a degree of system instability caused by stressor invasion of the LOD).
  • Entropy (a process of the energy depletion that moves the system towards disease or possible death).
  • Flexible LOD (a mechanism that protects the normal LOD from invasion).
  • Normal LOD (a representation of the client’s state of wellness).
  • The line of resistance (a set of concentric rings that surrounds the core structure) (Turner & Kaylor, 2015).
  • Output and input (information, energy, and matter that are exchanged between environment and the client).
  • Negentropy (a process of energy conservation which increases complexity and organization, thereby moving the system towards wellness).
  • Open system (a system where feedback, input, and output are in interaction).
  • Intervention (the determinant for entry of the nurse and client to healthcare system).
  • Reconstitution (the maintenance and return of system stability, which follows the stressor reaction treatment and may result in lower or higher level of wellness).
  • Stability (a state of harmony that requires adequate energy exchange).
  • Stressors (extra- (work pressure), intra- (emotions), and interpersonal (expectations) environmental factors that may disrupt the stability of the system) (“Betty Neuman’s System Model,” 2013).
  • Illness (a state of insufficiency and unsatisfied disrupting needs).
  • Wellness (a condition when all parts of the system are in harmony with the whole client’s system).
  • Prevention (a focus on keeping stress responses and stressors themselves from having a negative effect on the body).

    • Primary prevention (happens before the system’s reaction to a stressor, thereby promoting and maintaining the person’s health and wellness).
    • Secondary prevention (happens after the system’s reaction to a stressor and focuses on the protection of the central core from damage by reinforcing the internal lines of resistance).
    • Tertiary prevention (happens after the secondary prevention implementation and focuses on providing support to the client and additional energy to the system) (Flaherty, 2013).

The author is consistent when she uses her concepts and terms. She begins with explaining more general and major concepts of her theory and ends with the description of the subconcepts and concepts with narrower meaning. Additionally, she uses a holistic systems-based approach to the client care, addresses all philosophical claims, and explicitly defines all the concepts and propositions.



The basic assumptions of Betty Neuman’s Systems model include:

  • Every client system is unique and a combination of characteristics and factors having a particular range of responses within the basic structure.
  • There are multiple stressors, and they differ in their potential for breaking through the client’s normal LOD.
  • Certain interrelationships of client variables can influence the protection capacity of the flexible LOD.
  • The normal LOD can be considered a standard from which health deviation can be measured (“Betty Neuman’s System Model,” 2013).
  • When the flexible LOD cannot protect the client, an environmental stressor breaches through the normal LOD.
  • The client is a dynamic combination of the variables’ interrelationships.
  • LOR or the internal resistance factors are implicit within every client system and focus on stabilizing the client to the state of wellness.
  • Primary prevention is applied in identification and elimination of client’s possible risk factors.
  • Secondary prevention is a reaction to a stressor and elimination of its negative effects.
  • Tertiary prevention takes place when reconstitution begins and maintaining factors return to primary prevention.
  • Being a system, the client constantly and dynamically exchanges energy with the environment (“Betty Neuman’s System Model,” 2013).

Four Nursing Paradigms

Betty Neuman describes in her theory the four concepts of the nursing metaparadigm. Regarding the first concept focused on human beings, she states that a human being is a complete person as a client system, where the person is a multidimensional layered being (Turner & Kaylor, 2015). Every layer contains five subsystems or person variables:

  • Physiological – relates to the function of the body and its physiochemical structure.
  • Psychological – relates to emotions and mental processes.
  • Sociocultural – relates to relationships and cultural and social activities and expectations.
  • Spiritual – relates to the importance of spiritual beliefs.
  • Developmental – relates to the processes regarding the lifespan development (Flaherty, 2013).

Regarding the second concept focused on the environment, she distinguishes three forces that surround a person and interact with each other:

  • The internal environment is located within the client system.
  • The external environment is located outside the client system
  • The created environment is created by the client unconsciously and serves as a symbol of the wholeness of the system (“Betty Neuman’s System Model,” 2013).

The third metaparadigm concept that is focused on health is described by Betty Neuman in the following way:

  • Health is equal to wellness.
  • Health is a condition when all variables are in harmony with the client.
  • The client system approaches illness and death when the energy available is less than needed. The client system approaches wellness when the energy available is more than needed (Flaherty, 2013).

Concerning the fourth metaparadigm concept, namely nursing, Betty Neuman states the following:

  • Nursing is a unique profession that deals with all the variables and influences a person’s response to a stressor.
  • The task of nursing is to address a person as a whole.
  • The purpose of nursing is to maintain a maximum level of health by stabilizing the patient system and reducing stressors.
  • The role of the nurse is to react to stressors and implement primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions (Turner & Kaylor, 2015).

Overall, the theory explains all the concepts clearly and consistently. However, the difference between extrapersonal and interpersonal stressors is not quite clear and requires additional illustrative examples.


The General Use of the Theory in Nursing

Betty Neuman’s Systems Model is used in many areas of nursing. It is applied to the clinical practice, administration of healthcare services, research, and education. Globally, the practitioners of her theory recognize it as an effective method for creating positive clients outcomes. The practitioners of this theory try to help patients heal spiritually, mentally, and physically by reducing or eliminating various types of stressors described by Dr. Neuman (Fawcett & Foust, 2017).

Thus, they monitor the levels of client LOD and identify negative deviations from it, assess patients’ resources such as body temperature, emotional characteristics, genetic makeup, physical health, mental health, and stressor response patterns that help them cope with stressors taking into account the five client variables (Khatiban, Oshvandi, Borzou, & Moayed, 2016).

A Specific Example of the Use of the Theory

A vivid example of the use of this theory in clinical practice is the treatment of a patient with multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Neuman’s Systems Model provides a reliable guidance for nursing practice in managing this patient taking into account unpredictability and complexity of MS. Thus, concerning collecting data and findings, a nurse identifies stressors that affect the patient. The patient is an active individual whose career is connected with physical education. Based on the assessment of stressors and psychological and physiological findings, the nursing diagnosis of a threat to wellness is a decrease in muscle strength, overall stamina, and coordination due to the diagnosis of MS. Then, the patient and nurse negotiate goals (Russi & Brown, 2015).

The expected outcome focuses on the patient redefining the old parameters and accepting the new ones which make the patient refuse from their highly valued concepts of autonomy, fitness, and strength. Primary and secondary interventions are focused on the nurse exploring the patient’s feelings about symptoms and diagnosis. The patient develops a therapeutic relationship with a nurse and shares their feelings and grief about the inevitable refusal from physical career and attempts to find new ways of demonstrating personal strength. After that, the nurse and patient establish long-term objectives concerning the adaptation to MS, changing the patient’s career, and discussing further intervention (Russi & Brown, 2015).


Betty Neuman. (2013). Web.

Betty Neuman’s System Model. (2013). Web.

Fawcett, J., & Foust, J. B. (2017). Optimal aging: A Neuman Systems Model perspective. Nursing Science Quarterly, 30(3), 269-276.

Flaherty, K. M. (2013). Neuman Systems Model in nursing practice. In nursing theory: Utilization & application (pp. 200-222). St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier.

Khatiban, M., Oshvandi, K., Borzou, S. R., & Moayed, M. S. (2016). Outcomes of applying Neuman System Theory in intensive care units: A systematic review. Journal of Critical Care Nursing, 9(4), 1-7.

Russi, A. E., & Brown, M. A. (2015). The meninges: New therapeutic targets for multiple sclerosis. Translational Research, 165(2), 255-269.

The Neuman Systems Model. (2013). Web.

Turner, S. B., & Kaylor, S. D. (2015). Neuman Systems Model as a conceptual framework for nurse resilience. Nursing Science Quarterly, 28(3), 213-217.

Western Australia Police Communications Centre’s Change


The WA Police Communications Centre is a vital organ of the regions police force, primarily because it provides for an ideal way for members of the public to reach the organization for help and support. However, the job is very challenging because, by its nature, it involves constantly listening to appeals for help and the taking of swift decisions to make sure that the situation is effectively addressed. This essay seeks to analyze the challenges that affect the centre. To this end, a diagnosis of the organization shall be conducted, identifying the problems at the centre, before delving into the provision of solutions for these challenges. The Bolman and Deal reframing theory and the organizational change theory shall be used to develop a proper change implementation framework.

The WA Police Communications Centre

The WA Police Communications Centre, as per the Bolman and Deal four-frame approach to understanding organizations, can be defined in four different contexts. First, the organization can be viewed as a machine (Bolman and Deal, 2008). This is because the centre, in its existence, has several goals that it aims at achieving. These include providing a rapid response to emergencies and ensuring as ensuring that this support is available at any given time. In its operation, there is a specialization of labour in the organization. There are individuals running the call centre, others driving around waiting for directives on where their help is needed and administrators ensuring that the organization has the necessary material and financial support to operate at optimum levels. In its operation, the WA Police Communications Centre depends on already developed and installed communication technology systems. Without the availability of telecommunication infrastructures such as telephones and the internet, the centre will be paralyzed. The persons working for the organization are required to constantly interact with this technology, with each one of them being assigned to a specific set of equipment.

Using the second frame of the Bolman and Deal theory, the WA Police Communications Centre can be viewed as a family, with the emphasis being on the fit between individuals and the institution (Bolman and Deal, 2008; Marshak, 2006; Harvey, 2005). The Communications Centre exists to serve human needs through the provision of services that are needed to help to make life safer. Also, in the daily operation of the organization, there is a symbiotic relationship between the organization and people. The organization needs a skilled workforce to operate its systems, with the workers needing the organization to earn a daily livelihood. As long as this fit is perfect, both the individual and the organization stand to benefit (Wheatley, Griffin, Quade, and the National OD Network, 2003).

The WA Police Communications Centre can also be viewed as a jungle. This is because, with its setup, there is a framework for the division of power and resources. As far as the allocation of power is concerned, there is one officer that heads the entire organization. Still, below it, there are other junior leaders, with each having their sphere of influence. When it comes to resource-allocation, each department within the parent organization has a budget for its day-to-day running (Bolman and Deal, 2008). Of the overall budget, each department strives to take as much as they can to make their operations more comfortable. It, however, goes back to already set up structures for the allocation of resources to determine the amount that each section will get.

Finally, the WA Police Communications Centre can be viewed as a theatre as it derives at giving meaning, value and purpose. In general, it does not matter what happens in the background, but the output of the centre is critical in enhancing the quality of life of the affected society (Bolman and Deal, 2008). For the people working for the organization, the centre represents their basic livelihood. With their pay coming from the institution, they have to attach value to their area of work. The organization also has its own culture, and this is received in different ways by each individual. For example, the tradition calls for everyone to always be at hand to help the other, irrespective of personal differences, and this has for some time been upheld at the centre.

Forces for change

Organization change is the shift of an organization from an undesirable state to an ideal one, as part of ensuring that the institution operates at the highest effectiveness levels (Deal and Kennedy, 2000). For organization change to be achieved, there must be forces in places leading to a desired future. These forces for change can either be internal or external. In the case of the WA Police Communications Centre, the internal forces for change include administrative challenges, lack of proper equipment and facilities and a disconnect between the junior and senior staffs. As far as administrative challenges are concerned, there is a growing concern that the workers are not getting the kind of motivational feedback needed to help them know whether or not they are on the right path.

In the investigation conducted by Dr Niki Ellis, it was revealed that most people come to work and do their job and then leave without anyone telling them if their output was up to scratch. The lack of equipment was mainly indicated in the frustration over not having enough cars. The field that the WA Police Communications Centre is in requires the organization to always have vehicles on stand-by because it is never known when a call would come requiring a movement of rescuers to a scene. Another internal force for change presented in terms of the junior employees feeling left out of key decision-making processes (Deal and Kennedy, 2000). The junior officers questioned why they do not have a say in the way the organization is run, yet they are the ones who keep the institution running.

The external forces for change in the case of the WA Police Communications Centre mainly present in terms of changing technology, economic forces and the growing needs of the society they serve. Technology is always changing, and the centre needs to install measures to help maintain relevance. The population of the coverage area is constantly growing, and the centre needs to come up with a viable method of ensuring that support is provided effectively even as the demands increase. Economic forces are also among the external forces that might lead the centre to start instituting change. Because of the fluctuating economy, the organization is forced to develop frameworks to ensure that the members of staff are well insulated.

The problems at the WA Police Communications Centre

The challenges that the WA Police Communications Centre faces regularly, and which call for the development of a change implementation strategy can be divided into structural, political and cultural (Torbert, 2006). The structural problems that the organization faces come from there being a lack of positive communication channels between the senior officers and the junior members of staff. This has eventually led to decisions being made regarding the organization’s operation, which do not involve the junior members, ultimately leading them to feel left out.

Secondly, there is no proper framework for the determination of the quality of service provided (performance appraisal). Senior administrators do not provide the needed motivational commendation to their juniors even when work is done at a perfect level. The element of performance management has been over time, disregarded with the outcome being a lack of enthusiasm for the job by junior members of staff.

The unavailability of enough cars makes it difficult to run the operation at optimum levels. This is because the institution has mainly cut a forte in responding to emergencies, with most of them being attended to using cars. As such, with the number of cars at the disposal of the service being less than required, the officers on duty are forced to have to deal with complaints of inefficiency from the public.

Though not very pronounced, the WA Police Communications Centre also experiences problems that can be classified as political. These manifest in the form of a stringent hierarchy, which makes the decision-making process almost rigid. Some commands can only come from one source. When the individual in this particular capacity is not available or is unreachable for one reason or another, then the operation is forced to break.

The WA Police Communications Centre, being a public-service establishment that has been in operation for a while, has over its existence forged a routine that every new member is expected to follow. Individuals who operate outside this routine are not viewed positively. Individuals on the floor are expected to interact with each other on a social level constantly. Unfortunately, this leads to a reduction in the efficiency levels of the unit, with individuals who would like to pull out of social breaks to work being viewed as pretenders.

Cultural problems have also been seen to be affecting the WA Police Communications Centre. These present in the form of an unequipped human resource department. The centre, even though working in a community whose demands are increasing daily, does not have a big enough budget to allow for the recruitment of more staff members. The human resource department is forced to have to move some duties to the already-overworked staff.

Change intervention

Several problems have been pointed out in the WA Police Communications Centre, calling for the implementation of change. The problems will be tacked independently and using specific approaches. First, the structural problems need to be dealt with on their own, and this item of change is solely left to the administrative office.

As far as performance appraisal is concerned, the senior officers need to be informed and educated on the need for consistently looking at the work of their juniors and offering their recommendation on what needs to change. This feedback will go a long way in helping the junior officers understand what is expected of them and do it to the best of their ability. The feedback, particularly if negative, needs to come from the persons directly above them for it to reflect well on the target (Greinerand Cummings, 2004; Cummings and Worley, 2005).

The need for junior members of staff to be involved in the decision-making process also needs to be properly addressed. This can be achieved by encouraging individuals from different offices to nominate one of their own to sit in administrative meetings, especially the ones dealing with issues directly affecting the local offices. These representatives will be required to consult with the members they are speaking on any issue that is affecting them and escalate the information to their higher office for evaluation. Any solution that is provided in the administrative meeting should be considered tentative until the office representatives have presented it to their respective offices and a consensus arrived at. This goes in line with the participative leadership style which encourages for each member of an establishment to be included in the decision-making process, ultimately making them feel well appreciated in the development of the institution (Burke and Bradford, 2005).

The issue of there not being enough cars can only be dealt with by looking at the organization’s budget and trying to find out the areas where cuts can be made so that new vehicles can be obtained. The senior administrators should also look at the possibility of getting more funding for the operation, as this will help avail more resources for this purpose. This item should be treated with the utmost urgency because it determines whether or not the operation will be regarded as effective and successful.

To deal with the political issues arising from a lack of flexibility in the issuance of directives, the administrative office needs to establish a framework for the delegation of power within the organization (Gallos, 2006; Hammer, M. and Champy, 1993). The delegating leadership style, which will be applied in this section of change implementation, will serve to make the operating fluid and ultimately more efficient (Pfeffer, 1994).

The problems arising from a social-cultural perspective need to be dealt with from the base. The junior members of staff need to be constantly made aware of what is expected of them. This can be achieved by regularly sending circulars, pointing out the areas of laxity. Commendation for respecting the work environment will also come in handy in helping the members of staff get the initiative to receive the rules positively (Schein, 2004; Bradford and Burke, 2005).

Regarding the cultural environment, notably the human resource department, the centre needs to find ways of expanding its members of staff. This will, in effect, reduce the work-load per individual hence reducing the stress levels associated with the job. The people at senior managerial offices also need to be encouraged to drift from authoritative styles of leadership and embrace more democratic approaches of exercising authority over their juniors.

Resistance to change

Change, as beneficial as it may be to an institution, will always be met by some form of resistance. In tandem with Kurt Lewis’ force-field theory of resistance to change, the suggestions provided in this section for the betterment of WA Police Communications Centre’s work environment and quality of service will not auger well with individuals who believe their power will be curtailed. However, the well-being of the institution should be regarded as more important than the desires of a few (Schon and Rein, 1994; Galbraith, 2001).

Summary and Conclusion

This essay had set out to point out the challenges that the WA Police Communications Centre faces regularly and provide a desirable solution to these challenges. The first section of the paper was dedicated to evaluating the structure of the centre, and this was well achieved using the Bolman and Deal Theory. It was illustrated that the organization could be viewed as a machine, family, jungle and theatre. Next, the discussion went into listing the forces for change in the institution, and these were broken down into internal and external. The problems that the company faces were identified and solutions provided to help make the institution more efficient. Various leadership strategies were listed for use in the implementation of change. Finally, it was pointed out that there is bound to be resistance to change, and it was pointed out how this resistance can be dealt with. In conclusion, it should be noted that the challenges facing any institution, the WA Police Communications Centre included are always changing and that it will take a regular evaluation exercise to point out the areas that need adjustment.

Reference List

Bolman, L. and Deal, T. (2008). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership third edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bradford, D. and Burke, W. (2005). “The Future of OD?” in D. L. Bradford and W. W.

Burke (eds.). Reinventing Organization Development: New Approaches to Change in Organizations. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Burke, W. and Bradford, D. (2005). “The Crisis of OD” in D. L. Bradford and W. W.

Burke (eds.). Reinventing Organization Development: New Approaches to Change in Organizations. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Cummings, T. and Worley, C. (2005). Organization Development and Change (sixth edition). Cincinnati: South Western.

Deal, T. and Kennedy, A. (2000). Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life (second edition). Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing.

Galbraith, J. (2001). Designing Organizations: An Executive Briefing on Strategy, Structure, and Process (second edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass..

Gallos, J. V. (2006). “Career Counseling Revisited: A Developmental Perspective.” Career Planning and Adult Development, 1 (15) pp102-135.

Greiner, L. and Cummings, T. (2004). “Wanted: OD More Alive than Dead!” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 40 (4) pp138-189.

Hammer, M. and Champy, J. (1993). Reengineering the Corporation. New York: Harper Collins.

Harvey, J. (2005). “The Future of OD, or Why Don=t They Take the Tubes out of Grandma?” in D. L. Bradford and W. W. Burke (eds.). Reinventing Organization Development: New Approaches to Change in Organizations. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Marshak, R. (2006). “Emerging Directions: Is There a New OD?” in J. V. Gallos (ed.), Organization Development: A Reader. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pfeffer, J. (1994). Managing With Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Schein, E. (2004). Organizational Culture and Leadership (third edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schon, D. and Rein, M. (1994). Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies. New York: Basic Books.

Torbert, W. (2006). “Generating Simultaneous Personal, Team, and Organizational Development” in J. V. Gallos (ed.), Organization Development: A Reader. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wheatley, M., Griffin, P., Quade, K., and the National OD Network (2003). Organization Development at Work: Conversations on the Values, Applications, and Future of OD. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Lighthouse Press Company’s Business Model


Organisations change in response to a multiplicity of external or internal environment drivers. Organisational change requires a planned approach and an effective change management to move the firm from its current situation to another. The management of change encompasses all actions meant to support teams and staff to adopt new systems or processes to move the organisation from its current situation to a new state (Burnes 2004).

In contrast, planned change refers to an incremental series of actions that a change agent undertakes to move the organisation or department to a state of enhanced effectiveness (Senior & Swailes 2010). It comprises change phases and processes geared towards obtaining an optimal solution to identified organisational issues. Various change models exist for implementing change in organisations. This paper will apply Lewin’s Change Model to the Lighthouse Press, a publisher planning to change its business model from print media to a digital magazine.

The Case Study Issue

Lighthouse Press is a communications company based in the city of Lemchester. One of its products is the ‘Where to Whatever!’ or ‘W2W!’ magazine, a monthly publication. The organisation plans to discontinue its print edition and instead offer a free digital publication. In the information age, going digital is inevitable. Castells (2000) considers electronic media an inclusive “real virtuality” that allows messages tailor-made for specific segments, such as the young adults that the digital ‘W2W!’ will target (p. 13). Under the new technological paradigm, revenue streams for media outlets come from adverts placed on the online segment. For ‘W2W!’, the success of the transition to digital media will depend on how well the planned change process is managed and the model used to implement the desired change.

Lewin’s 3-Step Change Model

This change model encompasses three main steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing (Burnes 2004). The steps are outlined in Table 1 below. The major assumptions of this model are that change is pre-planned and people are at the centre of any change initiative. The success of the change process would depend on the balance between driving forces (motivation for change) and restraining forces (status quo) (Burnes 2004).

The first step, unfreezing, involves preparations for the planned change. It arises when the drivers for change overcome the restraining forces, paving way for a change initiative. In other words, the motivation to change the current state of affairs is higher than the resistance. During this stage, people are prepared to undertake the change after overcoming the initial resistance. Useful tactics in the unfreezing stage include communication, training, staff involvement, negotiation to win stakeholder support, and sometimes coercion (Gareis 2010). The main goal is to minimize resistance in preparation for the transition.

Table 1. Lewin’s Change Model.

Step 1 Unfreezing
Step 2 Changing
Step 3 Freezing

The second step is the changing stage. It entails transitioning into the new state by changing to new behaviour, systems, structures, etc. (Gareis 2010). The tactics for changing the current situation include frequent communication to highlight the benefits of the change, dispelling rumours through open and honest engagement, and employee involvement and training as a resistance-reducing strategy.

The third step is the refreezing stage. It entails the reinforcement of the change through regular feedback and organisational incentives for positive behaviour (Senior & Swailes 2010). The central goal is to stabilise the change made and avoid a relapse. One key resistance-reduction tactic applicable at this stage is aligning the change with the organisational culture. The change-organisational cultural fit can be achieved by addressing the barriers to sustained change and through adequate management support in the form of capacity training. Additional strategies during this stage include sustaining the change through appropriate leadership style, rewards for changed behaviour, and employee feedback.

From the case study, it is clear that moving ‘W2W!’ magazine to a digital platform should be incremental to retain the publication’s identity. The magazine’s objectives, mission, and content should remain unchanged. Going digital will increase revenue streams through ad sales. Its new vision is to become a dominant online magazine with useful reviews of restaurants, hotels, and other leisure sites in the city of Lemchester.

Critical Evaluation of the Model and Planned Change

Lewin’s model entails a 3-step planned change process. The literature identifies two major approaches to change that an organisation: emergent and planned change (Burnes 2004). Planned change describes the movement from a “fixed stage to another” through a logical sequence of stages (Myers, Hulk & Wiggins 2012, p. 78). This approach requires an organisation to identify beforehand the steps it will pass through to move from its current situation to the desired state.

For the ‘W2W!’, going digital (desired state) will require its management to anticipate and plan for disruptions in the business processes, including a resistance to change by reviewers accustomed to working with print media. In this case, early stakeholder engagement and the identification of change agents (champions) may be critical organisational responses for a successful planned change process. The emergent change may not be the best for the magazine’s transition.

This approach holds that change is a fast-paced process, and therefore, the management may not formulate and implement effective responses (Hayes 2010). Success in adapting to the younger, tech-savvy readership will require effective planning as opposed to a dramatic change process.

In Lewin’s model, the unfreezing stage is the preparatory phase. This stage could be useful for the planned change in ‘W2W!’. In this step, the employees move away from routine work processes and embrace new practices in preparation for the change (Miller, Madsen & John 2006). For an effective ‘W2W!’ digital transition, the reviewers must be encouraged to shed off established practices, i.e., writing print content, and acclimatise to producing reviews digitally. Burnes (2004) reinforces Lewin’s model by providing a set of conditions that will create an ‘unfreezing’ environment. First, allaying fears and concerns will allow employees to understand that without digital migration, the status quo (print magazine) will not help the organisation realise its revenue goals.

Second, the ‘unfreezing’ process can also result from survival anxiety, i.e., the notion that “engaging in the change process could lead to diminished effectiveness or individual identity” (Burnes 2004, p. 83). To ‘unfreeze’ the workforce, the management of Lighthouse Press should make a compelling business case for the change to gain stakeholder buy-in. For instance, the risk for not moving may include a drop in sales, while going digital will expand the magazine’s readership (younger adults), grow revenue from increased ad sales opportunities, and provide reviewer freedom. Giving this information will reduce resistance and elicit support for the change.

The other tactics ‘W2W!’ may use to create an ‘unfreezing’ environment include reviewer training in digital media, employee involvement, stress management, and negotiations (Burnes 2009). However, the model’s first step involves some challenges, including anxiety and uncertainty-related risks. As Palmer, Dunford, and Akin (2009) note, in the ‘unfreezing’ step, the employees tend to anxious in their new roles. This anxiety may result in unconstructive employee behaviour initially.

In the second step (changing), the workforce takes part in activities designed to “identify and implement” new changes in organisational behaviour or culture, systems, and structures (Burnes 2009). It is the moving stage. For ‘W2W!’, activities during this stage may entail staff training and support, recruitment of additional reviewers, and day-to-day directions from line managers. Cowan-Sahadath (2010) proposes that for change to occur, the stakeholders, including employees, should be involved in key decisions. Thus, the ‘W2W!’ management should provide opportunities for employee engagement, either directly or through unions.

Initially, the publisher can allow trial and error as the reviewers adjust to the new practices. Over time, resistance will reduce as the change drivers overcome the restrainers (Cawsey, Deszca & Inglos 2012). Initial evaluations of staff progress in adapting to the new change will indicate if additional training and support are required to enhance fidelity and reduce complacency. Staff involvement in decision-making is considered a best practice in change management literature.

Engaged employees are more receptive and committed to change than disengaged ones (Smith & Graetz 2011). The involvement should illuminate the specific gains for the employee to decrease resistance. In the current case, greater emphasis will be required on the advantages of a digital ‘W2W!’ edition (improved reviewer freedom and bonuses) to the change recipients.

Lewin’s last step (refreezing) emphasises on reinforcing or stabilising the change made (Burnes 2009). The aim is to strengthen the new processes and normalise behaviour to avoid relapse. At this stage, reinforcements for the change are necessary to ‘fix’ the new organisational practices. A successful ‘refreezing’ requires extrinsic employee rewards for fidelity to the new practices. The goal of the reward system is to achieve behaviour modification (Crawford & Nahmias 2010).

In this regard, ‘W2W!’ reviewers embracing digital media will deserve recognition for behaviour change. Rewards and recognition stress the value placed on positive behaviour, which helps avoid reverting to the status quo (Daft 2010). The rewards for reviewers producing useful digital content may include bonuses, promotions, paid vacations, etc.

Lewin’s model can be applied in ‘W2W!’ in different ways. First, the organisation can opt to change its current team of 20 reviewers. Acquiring a new workforce will help change the old skills, beliefs, dispositions, and behaviour (Smith & Graetz 2011). Second, the organisational structures and systems could be changed. Such changes will affect reporting lines, work processes, and compensation schemes. The reviewers could be required to produce digital content or work remotely as part of the restructuring process. Third, the organisational climate could be transformed in relation to decision-making and problem solving processes.

Lewin’s model is founded on the reciprocal relations between interdependent units in the organisation. In the context of ‘W2W!’, new HRM practices, e.g., hiring new teams, will result in changes in the editorial and marketing departments. The model can help implement planned change in an incremental fashion to attain the desired state. However, it may not be the best framework for implementing change in turbulent times. Its assumption that business entities operate in steady environments and can shift into a desired stable state makes the model impracticable in chaotic markets (Cameron & Green 2012). It also focuses on top-down implementation, which may not work for all change initiatives.


From the literature, it is clear that Lewin’s model gives a useful theoretical account for planned change in organisations. It encompasses three basic steps – unfreezing, changing, and freezing – for moving the organisation to the desired state. The model, as applied to ‘W2W!’ case, shows that the senior management of the publisher can create ‘unfreezing’ conditions by identifying and addressing the reviewers’ fears and attitudes. Further, implementing change activities such as staff training and managerial support can reduce resistance and initiate the digital migration. Subsequently, the organisation will adopt reinforcements to help sustain the new change and avoid reverting into developing content for the print edition.

Reference List

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Miller, D, Madsen, S & John, CR 2006, ‘Readiness for change: implications on employees’ relationship with management, job knowledge and skills, and job demands’, Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, vol. 11, no. 1, 3-16.

Myers, P, Hulk, S & Wiggins, L 2012, Organizational change, Oxford University Press, Oxford, MS.

Palmer, I, Dunford, R & Akin, G 2009, Managing organisational change: a multiple perspective approach, McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA.

Senior, B & Swailes, S 2010, Organisational change, Prentice Hall, Harlow, UK.

Smith, A &Graetz, F 2011, Philosophies of organizational change, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK.

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