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The Burke-Litwin Organizational Change Framework: A Simple Summary

The Burke-Litwin organizational change framework is a causal change model that seeks to show where change arises and how it flows between different parts of organizations. The model shows links between 12 strategic, operational and individual factors.

Summary by The World of Work Project

The Burke-Litwin Change Model

The Burke-Litwin change model is an organizational change model. It says that there are 12 key factors that organizations must consider when assessing change. The model groups these factors into different levels.

At the most macro level there are external factors. At the next level down are strategic factors, which include organizational culture. These are followed by operating factors and individual factors, before we reach the most micro factor grouping which is output.

The Burke-Litwin Change Model have many components

Within this model the interconnected nature of the factors is shown to be somewhat determined by the level of the factors. For example, the strategic factors are most impacted by the external factors and the operating factors, the factor levels that they are sandwiched between.

Learning More

Organizations often seek to change and improve, and often use organizational development programs to do so. There are many models that seek to explain how change in organizations happens. Some models to consider in the first instance include Kotter’s 8 Step Model, Lewin’s Change Model and the ADKAR model.

Similarly, there are many models that seek to explain individuals change. These include the Bridges model and the Kubler-Ross change curve.

It’s worth noting that there’s a lot of discussion and challenge around organizational change theories. We have several podcasts exploring this, including this one which takes a critical approach to process models of change:


The World of Work Project View

We like The Burke-Litwin Organizational Change Framework as a way to think about organizations and the factors that affect them and the changes within them. The systemic and interconnected nature of the model is helpful. We think it goes some way towards capturing the complexity of changing systems.

We are, however, of the view that change really can originate from anywhere within an organization, and we also believe that there are more interconnections than are shown in this model. These, though, are minor points.

We also think that human systems are complext

In summary, we like the model and think it shows some useful things, but also think organizations are more complex than implied through this model.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

The contents of this post have been based on interpretations of Burke and Litwin’s original article on the subject “A Causal Model of Organizational Performance and Change” as published in the Journal of Management in 1992. You can access the paper here.

You can also learn more about the Burke Litwin Model at the excellent toolshero website.

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