A Brief Introduction to Theory X and Y

Essay by maile1911University, Bachelor's December 2003

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A Brief Introduction to Theory X and Y

McGregor related employee motivation to the style of management. He categorized employee behavior into two types - Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X employees are categorized as lazy and unmotivated and only worked when forced to and never worked hard. By contrast Theory Y employees seemed to like work, were eager to please and worked hard on their own initiative. McGregor suggested that employee behavior was the result of the management style.

As McGregor maintained that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers tend towards theory x, and generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.

Theory X

According to Theory X, the average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can. Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organizational objectives.

And the average person prefers to be directed; do not want responsibility, and have little or no ambition, and wants security above all else.

These assumptions lie behind most organizational principles today, and give rise both to "tough" management with punishments and tight controls, and "soft" management, which aims at harmony at work. With Theory X assumptions, management's role is to coerce and control employees. They do not give their staff this opportunity so that the employees behave in the expected fashion.

Theory Y

Theory Y is a more generous view of human nature. It sees physical and mental effort in work to be as natural as play or rest, and it recognizes self-direction instead of external control as the principal means of securing effort. Control and punishment are not the only ways to make people work, man will direct himself if he is...