Mcgregors Theories X and Y

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Compare McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y style of leadership and consider the types of organizations in which each style of leadership might be most appropriate.

Douglas McGregor devised his concept of Theory X and Theory Y in the USA in the 1950’s using a survey of managers, which he then proposed in his book, ‘The Human Side of Enterprise’ in the 1960’s. Theory X states that a manager distrusts his subordinates, believes they don’t enjoy work and therefore must be controlled. Theory Y, on the other hand, speculates that a manager believes their employees enjoy work and wish to contribute, the manager is therefore more likely to include them in the decision making process and employ a more democratic style of leadership (Marcousse 2003). The two theories are not opposite ends of one spectrum, but rather two separate lines of continuum that describes the attitude and perception a manager has of their employees. The type of motivation that the employees receive from their manager is down to their management style. These Theories match up with Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. McGregor makes the point that the way in which a manager runs and controls his team has massive impacts on the happiness in employees, relating to esteem and self actualisation. These are two factors of motivation mentioned by Maslow in his theory. In comparing these two theories, X and Y, we must take into account different factors that may affect the two ideas and how they may do so in different scenarios or places of work.

The general idea is that Theory Y is the path of the “enlightened manager” (Chapman 1995) who runs a democratic form of leadership, and that it receives better results than theory X, whose manager employs more of an autocratic dictatorship. However this cannot always be believed. In different cases a manager may do better in his work to tell employees the best and most effective way to complete a task, knowing through experience. FW Taylor (1856-1917) believed in...
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