Management Theory of Robert Blake / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The management theory of Robert Blake, formulated in 1961, was ground-breaking then and still resonates today. With partner Dr. Jane ...

The management theory of Robert Blake, formulated in 1961, was ground-breaking then and still resonates today. With partner Dr. Jane Mouton, Blake's management theory was one of the first to quantify management styles into a mathematical grid. While seemingly simple, the Blake and Mouton managerial grid provided a fresh, scientific look at management style.

The Blake and Mouton theory revolved around the comparison between a manager's commitment to employee needs versus company production. A successful management style is able to incorporate both work and worker effectively, while less productive styles focus too much on one or the other, or in some cases, neither.

Robert Blake and Jane Mouton identified 5 different styles of managers:

1. The "impoverished style" on Blake's managerial grid cares little about people or production.

2. The "country club style" focuses solely on the needs of the employee and not the company.

3. The "produce or perish style" is all about performance and production with no regard for employee well-being.

4. The "middle of the road style" is an attempt at balance that yields only average results.

5. The "team style" is Robert Blake's model target and attains optimum performance and production from an engaged workforce.

Take the managerial grid questionnaire by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton

The management theory of Robert Blake and Dr. Mouton is important because it established a quantifiable means for assessing your own management style. You don't need to have a deep understanding of psychology to understand their management theory. By simply answering a series of questions, your place on the grid can be determined.

Use Blake and Mouton consistently

Using Blake's theory gives managers and employers a better understanding of not only what motivates their team, but also why it motivates them. By promoting a strong group dynamic, equating worker goals with company goals, and encouraging performance-based incentives, leaders can better understand and motivate their employees. The practical application of Blake and Mouton's work can take time to develop, but resources exist to help.

Consult experts to adapt Blake and Mouton's theory

Getting optimum results out of Robert Blake's management theory might not be easy. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, timely and effective implementation may be beyond your means. Hiring a consultant to assist you in the transition to a Blake and Mouton styled leadership paradigm might be beneficial.

  • Achieving success utilizing the Robert Blake managerial grid is meaningless unless there is regular follow-up and reinforcement. To make it work, management must be vigilant in upholding the standards and practices established over a long period of time.
  • Blake and Mouton developed the grid theory based on their consulting work for Exxon.
  • Blake's theory is first of all a tool for self-analysis: Understanding your own management style is the first step toward changing your organization.

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