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Title: Kurt Lewin’s leadership studies and his legacy to social psychology: is there nothing as practical as a good theory?
Authors: Billig, Michael
Keywords: Kurt Lewin
Leadership studies
Democracy and autocracy
Social psychology
Aristotelian science
Good theory
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: © John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Citation: BILLIG, M., 2015. Kurt Lewin’s leadership studies and his legacy to social psychology: is there nothing as practical as a good theory? Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour,45(4), pp.440-460.
Abstract: This paper re-examines Kurt Lewin's classic leadership studies, using them as a concrete example to explore his wider legacy to social psychology. Lewin distinguished between advanced “Galileian” science, which was based on analysing particular examples, and backward “Aristotelian” science, which used statistical analyses. Close examination of the way Lewin wrote about the leadership studies reveals that he used the sort of binary, value-laden concepts that he criticised as “Aristotelian”. Such concepts, especially those of “democracy” and “autocracy”, affected the way that he analysed the results and the ways that later social scientists have understood, and misunderstood, the studies. It is argued that Lewin's famous motto—“there is nothing as practical as a good theory”—is too simple to fit the tensions between the leadership studies and his own views of what counts as good theory.
Description: This article is closed access until 24th October 2016.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1111/jtsb.12074
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/16182
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jtsb.12074
ISSN: 0021-8308
Appears in Collections:Closed Access (Social Sciences)

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