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Theory X and Theory Y

Summary of McGregor's Theory X and Y. Abstract

McGregor, Douglas 1960

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous Theory X and Y models in his book 'The Human Side Of Enterprise' (1960).

  Theory X Theory Y
Assumptions Humans inherently dislike working and will try to avoid it if they can. People view work as being as natural as play and rest. Humans expend the same amount of physical and mental effort in their work as in their private lives.
  Because people dislike work they have to be coerced or controlled by management and threatened so they work hard enough. Provided people are motivated, they will be self-directing to the aims of the organization. Control and punishment are not the only mechanisms to make people work.
  Average employees want to be directed. Job satisfaction is key to engaging employees and ensuring their commitment.
  People don't like responsibility. People learn to accept and seek responsibility. Average humans, under the proper conditions, will not only accept but even naturally seek responsibility.
  Average humans are clear and unambiguous and need security at work. People are imaginative and creative. Their ingenuity should be used to solve problems at work.
Application Shop Floor, Mass Manufacturing - Production Workers Professional Services, Knowledge Workers - Managers and Professionals
Conducive to Large scale efficient operations Management of Professionals, Participative Complex Problem Solving
Management Style Authoritarian, Hard Management Participative, Soft Management

McGregor sees Theory Y as the preferable model and management method, however he felt it was difficult to use in large-scale operations.

In 1981, William Ouchi came up with a variant that combined American and Japanese management practices together to form Theory Z, having the following characteristics: long-term employment - collective decision making - individual responsibility - slow evaluation & promotion - implicit, informal control with explicit, formalized measures - moderately specialized career paths - and a holistic concern for the employee, including family.

👀TIP: On this website you can find much more about Theory X, Y and Z!

Compare with Theory X Theory Y:  Leadership Styles  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Bases of Social Power  |  Hierarchy of Needs  |  Expectancy Theory  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  ERG Theory  |  Herzberg Two Factor Theory  |  Change Management  |  Seven Surprises  |  Seven Habits  |  Eight Attributes of Management Excellence  |  Five Disciplines  |  Ten Principles of Reinvention  |  Fourteen Points of Management

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