Leadership / Management Values - Theory "X" & Theory "Y"

Theory "X" - Theory "Y"
Douglas McGregor was interested in improving organizational effectiveness by applying knowledge from the behavioral sciences to management practices. His now classic concepts regarding the nature of people who work were basic to this pursuit. His work and his ideas regarding managerial approaches to subordinate motivation are relevant for any organization in which individuals work together for common goals.

McGregor proposed that all management practices stem from managers' personal "theories" regarding the basic nature of people.  McGregor proposed that the way in which a manager interacts with superiors, peers and especially subordinates depends on the manager's philosophy regarding cause and effect relationships in human behavior.

For example, the manager who assumes that subordinates generally cannot be trusted will select a cluster of management practices which, in that manager's thinking, will best compensate for, or capitalize on those perceived characteristics of subordinates.  This manager may attempt to maintain control through close supervision, demands for strict adherence to rules, and threats of punishment.  Such external controls seem clearly appropriate to the manger who believes human beings are basically unreliable and irresponsible.

Theory X

McGregor summarized that the kinds of managerial practices described above can be derived only from a set of assumptions about human nature which he labled Theory X, which assumes:

  • Work is inherently distasteful to the average employee.
  • Employees have little desire for responsibility, are not ambitious and prefer direction.
  • Employees have low capacities for creativity in solving organizational problems.
  • Employees are motivated by "creature comfort" and security needs.
  • People work toward the organization's objectives or goals only if coerced and closely controlled.

Theory Y

Theory "Y" suggests that people are motivated to obtain mastery over their world and to experience feelings of self-respect, self-fulfillment and self-actualization in addition to their search for external gratification.  Theory "Y" assumptions include:

  • The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play and rest.
  • Employees are self-directed and do not require external control and the threat of punishment.
  • Employees what to achieve.
  • Employees seek responsibility.
  • Employees have the capacity to exercise a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity.

Theory "X" and "Y" beliefs are the foundation of management values.  These values effect how managers and leaders interact with employees and are a driving factor in policy and decision making.

Teleometrics Materials using Theory "X" & "Y"

Models for Management Training Module
Module 3 - Management Values

Self-Survey>> Managerial Philosophies Scale (MPS)
Co-Worker Feedback>> Reality Check Survey (RCS)

Video Support
Management Values and the Self-Fullfilling Prophecy

Group Exercise
The Harwood Dilemma