Situational Analysis of Management – Reddin 3D Theory

Bill Reddin is best known for the 3-D theory, the most powerful situational analysis of management of its time.

Essentially a development from Blake, Reddin proposed and used an 8 box model of management behaviour. Behaviour can be described as relationships oriented or task oriented. Unlike some previous writers (but like Blake), Reddin held that relationships orientation and task orientation are relatively independent – and that a manager can exhibit high or low degrees of each.

Reddin’s advance over Blake was his insight that the same behaviour can be appropriate or inappropriate to the situation. In fact, he showed that managerial behaviour can be positive or negative in any given situation. A major breakthrough of the theory was the acceptance that delegation was appropriate only in specific situations and that it was essentially hands-off in nature. He showed this as sets of boxes in perspective, hence the name 3-D.
Reddin’s three dimensions are:

  • Task Orientation – the extent to which a manager directs his (or her) subordinates’ efforts towards goal attainment; characterised by planning, organising and controlling.
  • Relationships Orientation – the extent to which a manager has personal job relationships;
    characterised by mutual trust, respect for subordinates’ ideas and consideration
    for their feelings
  • Effectiveness – the extent to which a manager achieves the output requirements of his or her position.
    It is important to notice that Reddin’s research led him to the view that degrees of relationships orientation and degrees of task orientation were independent of effectiveness – that either could be correlated with success dependent upon the situation. As Reddin said:

“Some managers have learned that to be effective they must sometimes create an atmosphere which will induce self-motivation among their subordinates and sometimes act in ways that appear either hard or soft. At other times, they must quietly efface themselves for a while and appear to do nothing. It would seem more accurate to say, then, that any basic style (of management) may be used more or less effectively, depending upon the situation.”

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