Understanding of Theory-X & Theory-Y: A Must For Prudent Management Practitioner

For many people, work is a matter of great pride and they get great satisfaction in their work. They make whole-hearted effort to complete the task assigned to them. There are some others who may perceive it as a burden and merely work to stay alive.

So, what motivates an employee to go to work with great zeal and interest each morning and what hinder some others to do so? This question gripped the attention of management theorists and social psychologists for decades to make out successful approaches to management. Social psychologist Douglas McGregor, in 1960, in his book “The Human Side of Enterprise”, expounded his famous X-Y theory on human motivation and management.

He endorsed Theory-Y as the basis of prudent management practice which presumes that people will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of accomplishment of organizational goals and objectives without external control or the threat of punishment. Delegation of authority and decentralization of decision-making are buzzwords in Y-Type Organizations.

Theory-Y manager believes that his people take pride in doing a good job. His style of management can be termed as “democratic” or “participative”. A Theory-Y manager senses that his team members:

  • are sincere, rationale and take work as a natural aspect of life.
  • use their intellect and imagination to solve work related issues.
  • feel elated in taking responsibility and motivated to accomplish goals and objectives.
  • need not to be directed or controlled much or all the times.

Contrary to it, Theory-X forms the basis to believe that most people dislike work and will avoid it whenever they get a chance. Hence, they must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organizational goals and objectives. Sometimes they may be lured with rewards else they don’t have any ambition or aspiration to work properly. There is no scope for delegation of authority and control remains centralized at all the times in X-Type organizations.

Theory-X manager believes that his subordinates dislike work and his style of management can be captioned as “authoritarian”. He feels his team members:

  • have an aversion to work.
  • can avoid responsibility and need to be directed and controlled at every step.
  • need to be forced, threatened and/or enticed to produce results, else they don’t have any aim, intention or inducement to work.

The theories suggest that the managers, who believe in Theory-X, usually get poor outcome and those who practice Theory-Y considered progressive or enlightened, produce better results and allow people to grow and develop.

In fact Theory-X and Theory-Y is a salutary aide-memoire of all natural rules for managing people, which are easily forgotten under pressure of routine business activities. It puts light on how a manager’s perception of what motivates and de-motivates determines whether his team member’s behavior is constructive or cynical. Hence, practicing managers, by understanding how their conjecture about team member’s motivation can persuade the outcome positively or negatively, can adapt appropriate management style.


One thought on “Understanding of Theory-X & Theory-Y: A Must For Prudent Management Practitioner

  1. Pingback: Understanding of Theory-X & Theory-Y: A Must For Prudent Management Practitioner | ravindraprasadblog

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