Essay on Theory X & Theory Y

2257 Words Nov 25th, 2010 10 Pages
Theory X and Theory Y represent two sets of assumptions about human nature and human behavior that are relevant to the practice of management. Theory X represents a negative view of human nature that assumes individuals generally dislike work, are irresponsible, and require close supervision to do their jobs. Theory Y denotes a positive view of human nature and assumes individuals are generally industrious, creative, and able to assume responsibility and exercise self-control in their jobs. One would expect, then, that managers holding assumptions about human nature that are consistent with Theory X might exhibit a managerial style that is quite different than managers who hold assumptions consistent with Theory Y.

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He called the first style of management "hard" and identified its methods as close supervision, tight controls, and coercion.

The hard style of management led to restriction of output, mutual distrust, unionism, and even sabotage. McGregor called the second style of management "soft" and identified its methods as permissiveness and need satisfaction. McGregor suggested that the soft style of management often led to managers' failure to perform their managerial role. He also pointed out that employees often take advantage of an overly permissive manager by demanding more but performing at lower levels.

McGregor drew upon the work of Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) to explain why Theory X assumptions led to ineffective management. Maslow had proposed that man's needs are arranged in levels, with physical and safety needs at the bottom of the needs hierarchy and social, ego, and self-actualization needs at upper levels of the hierarchy. Maslow's basic point was that once a need is met, it no longer motivates behavior; thus, only unmet needs are motivational. McGregor argued that most employees already had their physical and safety needs met and that the motivational emphasis had shifted to the social, ego, and self-actualization needs. Therefore, management had to provide opportunities for these upper-level needs to be met in the workplace, or employees would not be satisfied or motivated in their jobs.

Such opportunities could be provided by

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