Theory X and Theory Y

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Theory X and Theory Y, developed by Douglas McGregor, grew out of opposition towards classical management methods. Classical management theorists, such as Fredrick Taylor, focused on scientific training and efficiency and did not account for personal and behavioral issues, such as management styles or job satisfaction. McGregor saw these deficiencies in the classical school of management which lead him to develop a theory of management that would factor the importance of the individual worker. If a manager could tap into the feelings and attitudes of their workers, then the manager would be able increase their employee’s motivation which would then increase production. McGregor’s theory viewed the employee as a person and not as a machine as classical theorists did, and because the employee will receive more personal attention, he/she will become more satisfied with his/her own work, and according to McGregor, production would then be increased (Barnett).

McGregor developed his theory and published it in his book “The Human Side of Enterprise” in 1960 where he stated that classical theorists viewed employees as essentially having negative attitudes towards their jobs; this negative attitude was the basis for McGregor’s Theory X behaviors. Theory X had three main assumptions about workers and managers. First, McGregor suggested that employees dislike work and will avoid working whenever possible. Next, because workers dislike doing work, manager and supervisors must force them to work with the threat of punishment. The worker will then perform the duties with moderate effort which will barely drag the organization towards the pursuit of its goals. Finally, McGregor states that workers would play a passive role within the organizat...

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...ok at the elements of a good theory when criticizing McGregor’s theory X and Y. They will illustrate why the theory is valid and determine what value the theory may have in practice. There are a number of elements to a good theory and determining how they apply to McGregor’s Theory of X and Y will give us a better understanding of the theories usefulness to organizations in the present and future.

McGregor’s theory certainly has face validity because the theory is logical. There are clearly managers that identify with the approaches outlined by theory X and Y. Both styles have advantages and disadvantages but it is pretty much universally agreed that both make sense at the very least. Considering that this theory has been around for fifty years and is still used in courses of all levels it definitely has value when it comes to teaching about management styles.
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