Theory X & Y

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Date Submitted: 08/24/2011 03:50 AM

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In 1960, Douglas McGregor published a book that proposed the two theories in which managers perceive employee motivation. He referred to these as Theory X and Theory Y, where although each assumes that the manager’s role is to organise all resources to best benefit the company, they are quite dissimilar. According to Waddell, Jones & George (2011) it was perhaps the most influential approach amongst the several management studies that were conducted after the Second World War. The evolution of management theories are synthesised into a single, integrated approach which considers a range of factors including basic psychological needs and several types of motivation (Wilkinson, et al. 1986, p.3). This essay however, will focus on analysing the different aspects to the two opposing methods and how they have adapted into the 21st century and how they are now critically evaluated by managers today.

Douglas McGregor developed the assumption that employees are either not inherently lazy and capable of self direction (Theory Y) or that they are lazy, incapable of self direction and have little to offer in terms of organisational problem solving (Theory X) (Kopelman, Prottas & Davis 2008, p. 255). He proposed that these assumptions about work attitudes and behaviour not only dominate the way managers think but also affect how they behave in organisations. McGregor therefore named these two contrasting sets of assumptions as Theory X and Y. The most significant motivation behind the evolution of this management theory is the constant search for better way to utilise organisational resources. (Waddell et al. 2007, p. 38-51) Doug McGregor was able to captivate the managerial public that he was addressing by asking all who were interested in empowering and motivating a workforce to examine our assumptions about the most effective way to manage people. The theory therefore inspired several individuals to...