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original plan should not be “frozen” (p. 148) and should allow for flexibility in the response. Lewin, (1947b) in reference to social research, describes the group decision as a “change procedure” (p. 35). The three stages, Lewin theorised, can be defined as firstly the dismantling of former structures (unfreezing), secondly changing the structures (changing) and finally transforming them into a permanent structure (freezing). Greenwood and Levin (1998) claim this concept of change had an influence on the early days of action research. Lewin was responsible for the creation of the role for the researcher as involved in the research process and not a distant observer. They add, however, that action research is not a short term application, rather it is a continuous participative learning process.

Greenwood and Levin (1998) also describe the General Systems Theory (GST) which has its foundation in physics, biology and engineering. Central to this theory is a collection of holistic notions about the world and its assembly. GST sees the world as made up of interacting systems (inorganic, organic and sociocultural) not of separate atoms and molecules. These systems, by way of their interaction, integrate in a diverse manner with the same basic material and produce the vast array of phenomena humans encounter throughout life. They propose that this is different from what they term as the particulate view.

The world is not a neat stratigraphic map beginning with inorganic matter, passing to organic matter and then being transcended by sociocultural forces. Rather the world is a complex, interacting array of systems and system processes, bumping into each other in a variety of ways. (Greenwood & Levin, p. 70)

Lewin (1946) was not alone in his determination to methodically study a social problem. The historical development of the action research ethos encompassed the founding of the Tavistock Institute in London in 1946 (Trist & Murray, 1990). This institute drew together a group of psychiatrists, clinical and social psychologists and anthropologists, who developed innovations that related psychological and social sciences to the needs of society. The Institute became famous for a study on miners that explored the introduction of new mining equipment which, surprisingly, did not lead to increased productivity. The


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