other parts, and so there is a need to vigilantly monitor unexpected (and often undesired) changes. Increased involvement and participation of organizational members in decision-making and problem-solving processes enhances the quality of decisions and solutions, increases members’ commitment to following through on plans, reduces organizational stress, and enhances employee well-being (Cotton et al., 1988; Ganster, 1995). The action research involves outside change agents working with organization members in a cyclical process of diagnosing problems, planning, implementing plans, monitoring, and evaluating progress (Argyris and Schon, 1989).
Lewin (1951) developed an early and influential model for conceptualizing the change process. He posited three stages: first is unfreezing the old behavior, second is moving to a new behavior, and third is refreezing or stabilizing the new behavior. Thus, change was conceptualized as moving from one equilibrium point to another. To begin the process, the balance between opposing forces (those that facilitate and those that hinder change) must change, Lewin’s “force field analysis” was instrumental in the development of subsequent models of change. For example, organizational theorists such as Lippitt and co-workers (1958) and Schein (1987) built on Lewin’s three stages and linked them to psychological mechanisms for change and to action steps that change agents should take to facilitate progress through the stages.
Organizational change is an integral component of a comprehensive ecologic approach to health behavior change that emphasizes how individual decisions and behaviors are influenced by the multiple layers of systems within which individuals are embedded (Stokols, 1996). As important components of the social and physical environments, organizations exert considerable influence over the choices people make, the resources they have to aid them in those choices, and the factors in the workplace that could affect health status (e.g., work overload, exposure to toxic chemicals). People are influenced by organizations as employees, consumers, customers, clients, and patients.