Strategies for Social Change

The following are four strategies for effecting change that were originally outlined by Zaltman and Duncan (Strategies for Planned Change, 1977). They are not mutually exclusive, and most actions are based on a blend of these strategies.

Facilitative Strategies

These make change easier to implement and are used when the target group is in general agreement that a change is needed. Information dissemination and public relations are key ingredients. Useful when the magnitude of change is great and time is not an important factor.

Re-educative Strategies

Used to create an awareness of a problem, with solutions postulated by target groups. Useful if immediate change is not required, if motivation or commitment is not low, and if the capacity for change is high. A program of re-education is necessary when new skills or knowledge associated with the change is required. The higher the level of resistance is expected, the further in advance a re-educative strategy should be instituted.

Persuasive Strategies

These attempt to create change by reasoning, urging and inducement. It is a very biased and usually low-key, unexplicit approach. These strategies are used when a problem isnít recognized or considered important, or to convince the target group that one particular solution is best. Useful when the magnitude of change is great, when change is controversial or risky, when commitment is low, or when time constraints exist.

Power Strategies

These involve the use of coercion to obtain the targetís compliance. Useful when the change must be accomplished immediately, when the felt need of a change is very low, or when the reallocation of resources is resisted. It usually decreases commitment, and maintenance of the change requires further coercive measures.


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Last update of this page October 22, 1999