Stage Theory of Organizational Change

Stage Theory is based on the idea that organizations pass through a series of steps or stages as they change.

After stages are recognized, strategies to promote change can be matched to various points in the process of change.

According to Stage theory, adoption of an innovation usually follows several stages.

Each stage requires a specific set of strategies that are contingent on the organization's stage of adopting, implementing, and sustaining new approaches as well as socioenviromental factors.

History, Key Concepts and Application of Stage Theory

While Kurt Lewin is credited for creating one of the earliest stage models, modern stage theory is based on both Lewin's work and Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations theory.

Four stages of Stage Theory:

  1. Awareness of a problem and possible solutions
  2. Decision to adopt the innovation
  3. Implementation that includes redefining the innovation and modifying organizational structures to accommodate it
  4. Institutionalization or making the innovation part of the organization's ongoing activities

There has been less research on the factors that influence how an organization moves from one stage to the next and more research on the activities that occur during each stage.

Different leaders or "change agents" within the organization assume leading roles during different stages.

Strategies that organizations use depends on their stage of change and whether the nature of the social environment surrounding the innovation is supportive or otherwise.