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Theory X – Theory Y

Management Theory
Theory X

•Assumes employees are naturally unmotivated

and dislike working
•Encourages an authoritarian style of
•Usually the minority
•In mass organizations, such as large scale
production environment, theory X is unavoidable.
Theory Y
•A participative style of management that is de-
•Assumes employees are happy to work, self-
motivated, etc.
•More widely applicable
•People at lower levels of the organization are
involved in decision making and have more
Comparing Theory X and Theory Y
Theory X Theory Y
Motivation • Assumes people • Assumes people are
dislike work self-motivated
Management • Authoritarian • Participative,
Style and • Centralized control employees can join in
Control decision making
• Managers retain the
power to implement
Work • Specialized and often • Wider areas of skill or
Organization repetitive work knowledge
• Employees can
develop their
expertise and make
Comparing Theory X and Theory Y
Theory X Theory Y
Rewards and • ‘Carrot and stick’ • Separate from
Appraisals organizational controls
• Frequent promotion
Application • Widely considered • Widely adopted by types
inferior to theory Y of organization that value
• Large-scale and encourage
production operation participation
and unskilled • Suitable for knowledge
production line work work and professional
• Blue collar work services
• White collar work
• Social psychologist Douglas McGregor of MIT expounded
two contrasting theories in the 1960s
• Theories are about human motivation and management
• McGregor personally promoted Theory Y more than
Theory X
‘Theory X’ ‘Theory Y’


Theory X - authoritarian, Theory Y - liberating and

repressive style, tight control, developmental, control, achievement
no development, produces and continuous improvement
limited, depressed culture achieved by enabling, empowering
and giving responsibility

staff management
© alan chapman 2001-4 based on Douglas McGregor's X-Y Theory. More free online learning materials are at
Not to be sold or published. Sole risk with user. Author accepts no liability.