Force field Analysis

Force field analysis (Lewin 1951) is widely used in change management and can be used to help understand most change processes in organisations.



In force field analysis change, is characterised as a state of imbalance between driving forces (e.g. new personnel, changing markets, new technology) and restraining forces (e.g. individuals' fear of failure, organisational inertia). To achieve change towards a goal or vision three steps are required:

  • First, an organisation has to unfreeze the driving and restraining forces that hold it in a state of quasi-equilibrium.
  • Second, an imbalance is introduced to the forces to enable the change to take place. This can be achieved by increasing the drivers, reducing the restraints or both .
  • Third, once the change is complete the forces are brought back into quasi-equilibrium and re-frozen.

Thomas (1985) explained that although force field analysis has been used in various contexts it was rarely applied to strategy. He also suggested that force field analysis could provide new insights into the evaluation and implementation of corporate strategies. More specifically Maslen and Platts (1994) applied force field analysis to manufacturing strategy. Force field analysis is potentially a powerful technique to help an organisation realise a manufacturing vision.



  • Lewin K. (1951) 'Field Theory in Social Science', Harper and Row, New York.
  • Maslen R., Platts K.W. (1994) 'Force Field Analysis: A Technique to Help SMEs Realise their Intended Manufacturing Strategy', in Operations Strategy and Performance, 1st European Operations Management Association Conference, University of Cambridge, June, pp.587-588.
  • Thomas J. (1985) 'Force Field Analysis: A New Way to Evaluate Your Strategy', Long Range Planning, Vol. 18, No. 6, pp. 54-59. 


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