Theory X and Theory Y are theories of human work motivation and management. They were created by Douglas McGregor while he was working at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1950s, and developed further in the 1960s. McGregor's work was rooted in motivation theory alongside the works of Abraham Maslow, who created the hierarchy of needs. The two theories proposed by McGregor describe contrasting models of workforce motivation applied by managers in human resource management, organizational behavior, organizational communication and organizational development. Theory X explains the importance of heightened supervision, external rewards, and penalties, while Theory Y highlights the motivating role of job satisfaction and encourages workers to approach tasks without direct supervision. Management use of Theory X and Theory Y can affect employee motivation and productivity in different ways, and managers may choose to implement strategies from both theories into their practices.
McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y and Maslow's hierarchy of needs are both rooted in motivation theory. Maslow's hierarchy of needs consists of physiological needs (lowest level), safety needs, love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization (highest level). According to Maslow, a human is motivated by the level they have not yet reached, and self-actualization cannot be met until each of the lower levels has been fulfilled. Assumptions of Theory Y, in relation to Maslow's hierarchy put an emphasis on employee higher level needs, such as esteem needs and self-actualization.
Because managers and supervisors are in almost complete control of the work, this produces a more systematic and uniform product or work flow. Theory X can benefit a work place that utilizes an assembly line or manual labor. Using this theory in these types of work conditions allows employees to specialize in particular work areas which in turn allows the company to mass-produce a higher quantity and quality of work.
For McGregor, Theory X and Theory Y are not opposite ends of the same continuum, but rather two different continua in themselves. In order to achieve the most efficient production, a combination of both theories may be appropriate. This approach is derived from Fred Fiedler's research over various leadership styles known as the contingency theory. This theory states that managers evaluate the workplace and choose their leadership style based upon both internal and external conditions presented. Managers who choose the Theory X approach have an authoritarian style of management. An organization with this style of management is made up of several levels of supervisors and managers who actively intervene and micromanage the employees. On the contrary, managers who choose the Theory Y approach have a hands-off style of management. An organization with this style of management encourages participation and values individuals' thoughts and goals. However, because there is no optimal way for a manager to choose between adopting either Theory X or Theory Y, it is likely that a manager will need to adopt both approaches depending on the evolving circumstances and levels of internal and external locus of control throughout the workplace.
Thus, we can say that Theory X presents a pessimistic view of employees’ nature and behaviour at work, while Theory Y presents an optimistic view of the employees’ nature and behaviour at work. If correlate it with Maslow’s theory, we can say that Theory X is based on the assumption that the employees emphasize on the physiological needs and the safety needs; while Theory X is based on the assumption that the social needs, esteem needs and the self-actualization needs dominate the employees.
Motivation implies the act of stimulating or inspiring subordinates to pursue the desired course of action. It is something that makes people act or behave in a particular manner. Based on the premises concerning human behaviour, Prof. Douglas McGregor put forward a theory of motivation, called as theory X and theory Y. Theory X is a conventional approach to motivation, based on negative assumptions.
On the other extreme, Theory Y is diametrically opposite to theory X which shows the modern and dynamic approach to individuals and relies on the assumptions that are practical in nature. In this article, we are going to talk about the major differences between Theory X and Theory Y.
Basis for ComparisonTheory XTheory YMeaningTheory X is a motivational theory, which involves high supervision and control over the subordinates, and greater degree of centralization. Theory Y, is an advanced theory, wherein it is assumed that the workers are self-directed and self-motivated, for growth and development and takes active part in decision making. WorkDislikes workWork is naturalAmbitionLittle to no ambitionHighly ambitiousResponsibilityAvoids responsibility.Accept and seek responsibility.Leadership styleAutocraticDemocraticDirectionConstant direction is required.Little to no direction is required.ControlTightLenientAuthorityCentralizedDecentralizedSelf motivationAbsentPresentFocuses onPsychological needs and Security needsSocial needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs.
Theory Y is a modern approach on motivation, put forward by McGregor. It uses the participative style of management and assumes that workforce is self-directed and enjoy the work assigned to them, in the accomplishment of organisational objectives. According to the theory, employees are the most precious asset to the company. Given below are the major assumptions of this model:
There is no single motivation theory that explains all aspects of human motivation, but these theoretical explanations do often serve as the basis for the development of approaches and techniques to increase motivation in distinct areas of human endeavor.
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The most recognized content theory of motivation is that of Abraham Maslow, who explained motivation through the satisfaction of needs arranged in a hierarchical order. As satisfied needs do not motivate, it is the dissatisfaction that moves us in the direction of fulfillment.
There are also several different approaches to understanding human motivation which we have discussed in greater detail in our article on Benefits and Importance of Motivation which amass a large body of motivational studies and are currently attracting a lot of attention in contemporary research in motivational science, namely intrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000) and the flow theory (Csíkszentmihályi, 1975).
Robert Thayer (1989) evolved the theory of psychological arousal into two dimensions: energetic arousal and tense arousal, composed of energetic and tense dimensions. Energetic arousal is associated with positive affect, while tense arousal is associated with anxiety and fearfulness.
This oversimplification is part of the reason why more nuanced and complex cognitive theories have largely replaced the theory. The cusp catastrophe model in sports psychology, arousal-biased competition theory, processing efficiency theory, and attentional control theory are more concerned with the cognitive aspects of arousal and how this affects behavioral efficiency.
Glad you liked the article. Research on motivations underlying extremism and radicalization tend to point to our beliefs having a central role. This paper by Trip et al. (2019) provides an excellent summary of the thinking in this space. It looks at the factors from an REBT perspective. It addresses a whole range of motivational perspectives including uncertainty-identity theory and integrated threat theory.
McGregor's theory introduced two different management theories based on human motivation, Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X is an authoritarian style of management that assumes employees want to be told what to do rather than take responsibility and make decision. Theory X managers believe their employees lack creativity and only work for a paycheck. Theory Y is a participative management style where managers believe employees want to work and make decisions with less supervision. Theory Y managers believe employees enjoy work and want to see the organization succeed. Regardless of theory chosen, there is a self-fulfilling prophecy which theorizes employees will only work as hard as their supervisors. Theory Y is a more popular management style today; however, there is still room for Theory X in some circumstances.
There have been various theories developed regarding management. Some theories focus strictly on production and revenue, while others focus on the human relations factor that goes into managing. Theory X and Theory Y are two of the latter forms of management theories. Douglas McGregor first created McGregor's theory, which consists of Theory X and Theory Y, in the 1960s. Douglas McGregor was a social psychologist which is why Theory X and Theory Y focus mainly on how management beliefs effect human motivation; these two management types are also referred to as authoritarian and participative.
Theory X and Theory Y are related to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In the 1940s Abraham Maslow developed a theory on how human needs effect motivation. The first need in this theory regards physical needs, such as food and shelter. The hierarchy of needs then moves to social needs such as love and respect. Theory X correlated to the physical factors on the hierarchy of needs; employees work to make money to provide food and shelter. Theory Y correlates to social factors of the hierarchy; employees want to be involved, belong and be respected.
Theory X is an authoritarian approach to management which focuses on the external motivating forces that affect employees. This management approach is synonymous with the current term of micromanaging. Under this theory, management oversees every aspect of the tasks and provides constant supervision. Motivation, in this theory, is thought to come from money in exchange for work performed. The theory assumes employees need additional motivation to perform tasks from their managers as well as that employees want to be micromanaged and not accept responsibility. 2b1af7f3a8