Douglas Mcgregor Theory X Theory Y Pdf Free Rating: 7,6/10 8304 votes
  • Theory X and Theory Y: Theories of Employee Motivation Theory X and Theory Y was created and developed by Douglas McGregor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1960s. It describes two very different attitudes towards workforce motivation.
  • Douglas McGregor, best known for his comparison of the X and Y theories of management, is often considered the father of the Y management theory. (Douglas Mcgregor: Theory X and Theory Y, 1998) The Y management theory implies that employees as responsible individuals, who are motivated by a sense of accomplishment.
  • Theory_xyz_onthewaterfront.pdf - Theory XY (Douglas McGregor) and Theory Z (William Ouichi) Theory X an “authoritarian” style of management • The average worker dislikes work; finds it The Impact of Theory X, Theory Y and Theory Z on.pdf - 0 downloads.

Physical system, Theory X and Y considered as ‘models’. Douglas McGregor is the one who constructed Theory X and Y in the 1960s. Theory X and Y created by McGregor has been a valid basic principle from which to develop positive management style and techniques. McGregor's ideas suggest that there are two. 85 CRIS Bulletin 2013/02 DOUGLAS MCGREGOR’S THEORY X AND THEORY Y DOUGLAS MCGREGOR’S THEORY X AND THEORY Y It was in 1957 that Douglas McGregor first proposed the concept of Theory X and Theory Y in ‘The Human Side of Enterprise’, yet still today his ideas continue to be misunderstood and misused in the field of management. Douglas McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y incorporate both internal and external work motivation and management. McGregor's sets forth two alternative views of human nature first view are called What is McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y? FREE Exclusive Notes via Email. The Relationship between McGregor's X-Y Theory Management Style and Fulfillment of Psychological. McGregor’s X-Y theory is a natural rule for managing people. McGregor’s ideas suggest that there are two fundamental approaches to managing. Theory X and Y considered as ‘models’. Douglas McGregor is the one who.

Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate between Theory X, Theory, Y, and Theory Z managers
  • Explain the implications of Theory X, Theory Y, and Theory Z for employee management

McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

The idea that a manager’s attitude has an impact on employee motivation was originally proposed by Douglas McGregor, a management professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the 1950s and 1960s. In his 1960 book, The Human Side of Enterprise, McGregor proposed two theories by which managers perceive and address employee motivation. He referred to these opposing motivational methods as Theory X and Theory Y management. Each assumes that the manager’s role is to organize resources, including people, to best benefit the company. However, beyond this commonality, the attitudes and assumptions they embody are quite different.

Theory X

According to McGregor, Theory X management assumes the following:

  • Work is inherently distasteful to most people, and they will attempt to avoid work whenever possible.
  • Most people are not ambitious, have little desire for responsibility, and prefer to be directed.
  • Most people have little aptitude for creativity in solving organizational problems.
  • Motivation occurs only at the physiological and security levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • Most people are self-centered. As a result, they must be closely controlled and often coerced to achieve organizational objectives.
  • Most people resist change.
  • Most people are gullible and unintelligent.

Essentially, Theory X assumes that the primary source of employee motivation is monetary, with security as a strong second. Under Theory X, one can take a hard or soft approach to getting results.

The hard approach to motivation relies on coercion, implicit threats, micromanagement, and tight controls— essentially an environment of command and control. The soft approach, however, is to be permissive and seek harmony in the hopes that, in return, employees will cooperate when asked. However, neither of these extremes is optimal. The hard approach results in hostility, purposely low output, and extreme union demands. The soft approach results in a growing desire for greater reward in exchange for diminished work output.

It might seem that the optimal approach to human resource management would lie somewhere between these extremes. However, McGregor asserts that neither approach is appropriate, since the basic assumptions of Theory X are incorrect.

Drawing on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, McGregor argues that a need, once satisfied, no longer motivates. The company uses monetary rewards and benefits to satisfy employees’ lower-level needs. Once those needs have been satisfied, the motivation disappears. Theory X management hinders the satisfaction of higher-level needs because it doesn’t acknowledge that those needs are relevant in the workplace. As a result, the only way that employees can attempt to meet higher-level needs at work is to seek more compensation, so, predictably, they focus on monetary rewards. While money may not be the most effective way to self-fulfillment, it may be the only way available. People will use work to satisfy their lower needs and seek to satisfy their higher needs during their leisure time. However, employees can be most productive when their work goals align with their higher-level needs.

McGregor makes the point that a command-and-control environment is not effective because it relies on lower needs for motivation, but in modern society those needs are mostly satisfied and thus are no longer motivating. In this situation, one would expect employees to dislike their work, avoid responsibility, have no interest in organizational goals, resist change, etc.—creating, in effect, a self-fulfilling prophecy. To McGregor, a steady supply of motivation seemed more likely to occur under Theory Y management.

Theory Y

The higher-level needs of esteem and self-actualization are ongoing needs that, for most people, are never completely satisfied. As such, it is these higher-level needs through which employees can best be motivated.

In strong contrast to Theory X, Theory Y management makes the following assumptions:

  • Work can be as natural as play if the conditions are favorable.
  • People will be self-directed and creative to meet their work and organizational objectives if they are committed to them.
  • People will be committed to their quality and productivity objectives if rewards are in place that address higher needs such as self-fulfillment.
  • The capacity for creativity spreads throughout organizations.
  • Most people can handle responsibility because creativity and ingenuity are common in the population.
  • Under these conditions, people will seek responsibility.

Under these assumptions, there is an opportunity to align personal goals with organizational goals by using the employee’s own need for fulfillment as the motivator. McGregor stressed that Theory Y management does not imply a soft approach.

McGregor recognized that some people may not have reached the level of maturity assumed by Theory Y and may initially need tighter controls that can be relaxed as the employee develops.

If Theory Y holds true, an organization can apply the following principles of scientific management to improve employee motivation:

  • Decentralization and delegation: If firms decentralize control and reduce the number of levels of management, managers will have more subordinates and consequently need to delegate some responsibility and decision making to them.
  • Job enlargement: Broadening the scope of an employee’s job adds variety and opportunities to satisfy ego needs.
  • Participative management: Consulting employees in the decision-making process taps their creative capacity and provides them with some control over their work environment.
  • Performance appraisals: Having the employee set objectives and participate in the process of self-evaluation increases engagement and dedication.

If properly implemented, such an environment can increase and continually fuel motivation as employees work to satisfy their higher-level personal needs through their jobs.

Ouchi’s Theory Z

During the 1980s, American business and industry experienced a tsunami of demand for Japanese products and imports, particularly in the automotive industry. Why were U.S. consumers clambering for cars, televisions, stereos, and electronics from Japan? Two reasons: (1) high-quality products and (2) low prices. The Japanese had discovered something that was giving them the competitive edge. The secret to their success was not what they were producing but how they were managing their people—Japanese employees were engaged, empowered, and highly productive.

Management professor William Ouchi argued that Western organizations could learn from their Japanese counterparts. Although born and educated in America, Ouchi was of Japanese descent and spent a lot of time in Japan studying the country’s approach to workplace teamwork and participative management. The result was Theory Z—a development beyond Theory X and Theory Y that blended the best of Eastern and Western management practices. Ouchi’s theory first appeared in his 1981 book, Theory Z: How American Management Can Meet the Japanese Challenge. The benefits of Theory Z, Ouchi claimed, would be reduced employee turnover, increased commitment, improved morale and job satisfaction, and drastic increases in productivity.

Theory Z stresses the need to help workers become generalists, rather than specialists. It views job rotations and continual training as a means of increasing employees’ knowledge of the company and its processes while building a variety of skills and abilities. Since workers are given much more time to receive training, rotate through jobs, and master the intricacies of the company’s operations, promotions tend to be slower. The rationale for the drawn-out time frame is that it helps develop a more dedicated, loyal, and permanent workforce, which benefits the company; the employees, meanwhile, have the opportunity to fully develop their careers at one company. When employees rise to a higher level of management, it is expected that they will use Theory Z to “bring up,” train, and develop other employees in a similar fashion.

Ouchi’s Theory Z makes certain assumptions about workers. One assumption is that they seek to build cooperative and intimate working relationships with their coworkers. In other words, employees have a strong desire for affiliation. Another assumption is that workers expect reciprocity and support from the company. According to Theory Z, people want to maintain a work-life balance, and they value a working environment in which things like family, culture, and traditions are considered to be just as important as the work itself. Under Theory Z management, not only do workers have a sense of cohesion with their fellow workers, they also develop a sense of order, discipline, and a moral obligation to work hard. Finally, Theory Z assumes that given the right management support, workers can be trusted to do their jobs to their utmost ability and look after for their own and others’ well-being.

Theory Z also makes assumptions about company culture. If a company wants to realize the benefits described above, it need to have the following:

  • A strong company philosophy and culture: The company philosophy and culture need to be understood and embodied by all employees, and employees need to believe in the work they’re doing.
  • Long-term staff development and employment: The organization and management team need to have measures and programs in place to develop employees. Employment is usually long-term, and promotion is steady and measured. This leads to loyalty from team members.
  • Consensus in decisions: Employees are encouraged and expected to take part in organizational decisions.
  • Generalist employees: Because employees have a greater responsibility in making decisions and understand all aspects of the organization, they ought to be generalists. However, employees are still expected to have specialized career responsibilities.
  • Concern for the happiness and well-being of workers: The organization shows sincere concern for the health and happiness of its employees and their families. It takes measures and creates programs to help foster this happiness and well-being.
  • Informal control with formalized measures: Employees are empowered to perform tasks the way they see fit, and management is quite hands-off. However, there should be formalized measures in place to assess work quality and performance.
  • Individual responsibility: The organization recognizes the individual contributions but always within the context of the team as a whole.

Theory Z is not the last word on management, however, as it does have its limitations. It can be difficult for organizations and employees to make life-time employment commitments. Also, participative decision-making may not always be feasible or successful due to the nature of the work or the willingness of the workers. Slow promotions, group decision-making, and life-time employment may not be a good fit with companies operating in cultural, social, and economic environments where those work practices are not the norm.

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Check Your Understanding

Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered above. This short quiz does not count toward your grade in the class, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.

Use this quiz to check your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the previous section further or (2) move on to the next section.

Table of contents

1. Theory X - 'Authoritarian Management' Style

1.1. Characteristics of an X-theory manager

1.2. Managing an X-theory boss

2. Theory Y - 'Participative Management' Style

3. Theory Z - William Ouchi

4. Tools for Teaching, Understanding and Evaluating XY Theory Factors

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory in his 1960 book 'The Human Side Of Enterprise'. Theory X and Theory Y are still referred to commonly in the field of management and motivation, and whilst more recent studies have questioned the rigidity of the model, Mcgregor's X-Y Theory remains a valid basic principle from which to develop positive management style and techniques. McGregor's XY Theory remains central to organizational development, and to improving organizational culture.

McGregor's X-Y theory is a salutary and simple reminder of the natural rules for managing people, which under the pressure of day-to-day business are all too easily forgotten.

McGregor's ideas suggest 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.

McGregor's ideas significantly relate to modern understanding of the Psychological Contract, which provides many ways to appreciate the unhelpful nature of X-Theory leadership and the useful constructive beneficial nature of Y-Theory leadership.


Theory X - 'Authoritarian Management' Style

  • The average person dislikes work and will avoid it if he/she can.
  • Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organisational objectives.
  • The average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.

Characteristics of an X-theory manager

Perhaps the most noticeable aspects of McGregor's XY Theory - and the easiest to illustrate - are found in the behaviours of autocratic managers and organizations which use autocratic management styles.

What are the characteristics of a Theory X manager? Typically some, most or all of these:

  • Results-driven and deadline-driven, to the exclusion of everything else
  • Intolerant
  • Issues deadlines and ultimatums
  • Distant and detached
  • Aloof and arrogant
  • Elitist
  • Short temper
  • Shouts
  • Issues instructions, directions, edicts
  • Issues threats to make people follow instructions
  • Demands, never asks
  • Does not participate
  • Does not team-build
  • Unconcerned about staff welfare, or morale
  • Proud, sometimes to the point of self-destruction
  • One-way communicator
  • Poor listener
  • Fundamentally insecure and possibly neurotic
  • Anti-social
  • Vengeful and recriminatory
  • Does not thank or praise
  • Withholds rewards, and suppresses pay and remunerations levels
  • Scrutinises expenditure to the point of false economy
  • Seeks culprits for failures or shortfalls
  • Seeks to apportion blame instead of focusing on learning from the experience and preventing recurrence
  • Does not invite or welcome suggestions
  • Takes criticism badly and likely to retaliate if from below or peer group
  • Poor at proper delegating - but believes they delegate well
  • Thinks giving orders is delegating
  • Holds on to responsibility but shifts accountability to subordinates
  • Relatively unconcerned with investing in anything to gain future improvements
  • Unhappy

Managing an X-theory boss

Working for an X theory boss isn't easy - some extreme X theory managers make extremely unpleasant managers, but there are ways of managing these people upwards. Avoiding confrontation (unless you are genuinely being bullied, which is a different matter) and delivering results are the key tactics.

  • Theory X managers (or indeed Theory Y managers displaying Theory X behaviour) are primarily results-oriented, so orientate your own discussions and dealings with them around results - ie what you can deliver and when.
  • Theory X managers are facts and figures oriented - so cut out the incidentals, be able to measure and substantiate anything you say and do for them, especially reporting on results and activities.
  • Theory X managers generally don't understand or have an interest in human issues, so don't try to appeal to their sense of humanity or morality. Set your own objectives to meet their organisational aims and agree these with the managers; be seen to be Theory manager sees you are managing yourself and producing results, the less they'll feel the need to do it for you.
  • Always deliver your commitments and promises. If you are given an unrealistic task and/or deadline state the reasons why it's not realistic, but be very sure of your ground, don't be negative; be constructive as to how the overall aim can be achieved in a way that you know you can deliver.
  • Stand up for yourself, but constructively - avoid confrontation. Never threaten or go over their heads if you are dissatisfied or you'll be in big trouble afterwards and life will be a lot more difficult.
  • If an X Theory boss tells you how to do things in ways that are not comfortable or right for you, then don't questioning the process, simply confirm the end-result that is required, and check that it's okay to 'streamline the process' or 'get things done more efficiently' if the chance arises - they'll normally agree to this, which effectively gives you control over the 'how', provided you deliver the 'what' and 'when'.

And this is really the essence of managing upwards X Theory managers - focus and get agreement on the results and deadlines - if you consistently deliver, you'll increasingly be given more leeway on how you go about the tasks, which amounts to more freedom. Be aware also that many X Theory managers are forced to be X Theory by the short-term demands of the organisation and their own superiors - an X Theory manager is usually someone with their own problems, so try not to give them any more.


Theory Y - 'Participative Management' Style

  • Effort in work is as natural as work and play.
  • People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organisational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
  • Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
  • People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
  • The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organisational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
  • In industry, the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilised.

Theory Z - William Ouchi

First things first - Theory Z is not a Mcgregor idea and as such is not Mcgregor's extension of his XY theory.

Theory Z was developed by William Ouchi, in his book 1981 'Theory Z: How American Business can meet the Japanese Challenge'. William Ouchi is a professor of management at UCLA, Los Angeles, and a board member of several large US organisations.

Theory Z is often referred to as the 'Japanese' management style, which is essentially what it is. It's interesting that Ouchi chose to name his model 'Theory Z', which apart from anything else tends to give the impression that it's a Mcgregor idea. One wonders if the idea was not considered strong enough to stand alone with a completely new name.. Nevertheless, Theory Z essentially advocates a combination of all that's best about Theory Y and modern Japanese management, which places a large amount of freedom and trust with workers, and assumes that workers have a strong loyalty and interest in team-working and the organisation.

Theory Z also places more reliance on the attitude and responsibilities of the workers, whereas Mcgregor's XY Theory is mainly focused on management and motivation from the manager's and organisation's perspective.


Tools for Teaching, Understanding and Evaluating XY Theory Factors

The XY Theory diagram and measurement tool below (pdf and doc versions) are adaptations of McGregor's ideas for modern organizations, management and work. They were not created by McGregor. I developed them to help understanding and application of McGregor's XY Theory concept. The test is a simple reflective tool, not a scientifically validated instrument; it's a learning aid and broad indicator. Please use it as such.


Same free XY Theory test tool - two-page version with clearer layout and scoring - (pdf)

Mcgregor Theory X Theory Y Articles


See also the article about Assertive Techniques and Self Confidence.



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Theory X Theory Y Quiz Douglas Mcgregor


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