Theory X and Theory Y have been
propounded by Douglas McGregor who was
an American social psychologist. He
presented his theory in his 1960 book, ‘The
Human Side of Enterprise’.
The Theories X – Y are used extensively in
management and motivation. The theory has
been used by management to formulate and
develop motivation and positive management
styles, strategies and techniques. It remains
central to the organizational development
and in improving organizational culture.
Theory X assumes autocratic management.
The theory says that managers under Theory
X assume that most people are naturally lazy
and need to be controlled and supervised.
They think that people need to be motivated
all the time. One of the notions that Theory X
managers have toward their people is that
they are not very smart and they need good
encouragement to do good work.
Some of the most noticeable characteristics
of Theory X managers are autocratic
The managers are results-driven. They are
concerned with the completion of a given
task. They issue deadlines for the completion
The managers lack tolerance. They are very
intolerant in nature.
Most of the theory X managers distances
themselves from workers. They do not have
much of an attachment to with their
Theory X managers issue threats and
warnings to make people follow their
They do not participate in the process of
They are unconcerned about the welfare or
morale of the employees.
They are one-way communicators and poor
They withhold rewards and suppress pay and
They are poor at delegating responsibilities
and think giving orders is delegating
They hold on to responsibility but shift
accountability to subordinates.
Conversely, Theory Y assumes democratic
management. The theory says that managers
under Theory Y assume that most people like
to work. The managers assume that they have
self-control. They assume that people can
motivate themselves and want to do a good
job. One of the important notions that Theory
Y managers have about their people is that
they are smart.
Some of the characteristics of Theory Y
managers can be seen. Theory Y managers
are quite opposite to that of Theory X.
Even Theory Y managers are results-oriented,
after all, but they are also concerned with not
just the completion of work, but they assist
their subordinates in doing things.
Theory Y managers are very tolerant in
nature. They tolerant mistakes and try to
rectify them by explaining what should not be
done and what needs to be done.
Theory Y managers do not distance out from
their employees. They think it is all one team
including oneself and move along providing
motivation and encouragement to the team.
They do not threat employees for non-
compliance. Instead, they explain them about
the norms and compliance issues and make
them realize that instructions are for the
betterment of work.
They actively participate in the team building
process and make sure that every employee
in the team is more than a better performer.
They are very much concerned about the
welfare and morale of employees. They try to
know the grievances of their employees, if
any and try to solve them, if possible.
They are good communicators and good
listeners and take suggestions and
constructive criticism seriously.
They do not withhold any rewards and
compensations to threat the employees. They
also praise their employees for their good
They are very good at delegating
responsibilities. They not only give orders but
also give directions and suggestions to
complete the work.
They hold on to responsibility and also
accountability to themselves.
These are the fundamental differences in the
views of Theory X and Theory Y. The theories
are used extensively in the management
school of thought for the betterment of work,
productivity and organizational culture in the
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