The foundation of McGregor’s theory has direct links to Taylor’s study of scientific management: a study of scientific management as a link between human beings and their jobs which in turn need to be re-constructed to maximise efficiency (Waddell et al. 2007, p. 43). Many researchers and scholars have developed theories based on the work of F.W. Taylor. McGregor, Maslow and others who assisted to improve the view of human relation tried to prove that there is another side to the traditional perspective of workers (Bartol and Martin 1998, p. 52).This literature review will be focusing on the evolution of McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y in relation to the development of management theory. Moreover will be explaining the definition of X and Y theory and its relevance to 21st century.
McGregor proposed two contrasting sets of managerial assumptions about the workers. He further examined taking Taylor’s traditional view of workers and Mayo’s human relation approach into consideration, which he labelled Taylor’s view as ‘Theory X’ and as Mayo’s view as ‘Theory Y’ (Montana and Charnov 2000, p. 25). [ (Stephen P.Robbins) ] However, ‘both these theories have the common definition of functions of manager: management is responsible for organising the elements of productive enterprise- money, materials, equipment, and people- in the best interest of economic ends’. Main differences in these two theories are the assumptions (Urwick 1970, p .1). McGregor with his experience as a manager and as a psychologist, observed the behaviour and attitude of the workers (Daft.2003, p. 47). According to Kopelman, Prottas and Davis (2008, p 1) Theory X represents that workers generally dislike work, are irresponsible, are lethargic and require close supervision. In contrast, Theory Y denotes that individuals are generally creative, innovative, accept responsibility and believe work is a natural activity. Furthermore, his observations on the classical and the behavioural approaches to understanding workers were found different. He paired up his theories to the work of Abraham Maslow, where he compared the higher needs put forward by Abraham Maslow such as self-actualization, to a Theory Y leadership style, and lower needs such as physiological and safety, to the Theory X leadership style (Bartol and Martin 1998, p. 51). Theory X is referred to as optimistic and Theory Y as pessimistic (Montana and Charnov 2000, p 26), others labeled Theory X as negative and Theory Y as positive (Robbins et al.1998, p 202) and according Schein (1970, p.5) McGregor called Theory X as “hard approach” and Theory Y as “soft approach”.
According to McGregor (1960, p. 33-35), the assumptions of Theory X are that individuals by nature do not like to work and will avoid it if possible. Furthermore, human beings do not want responsibility and desire precise guidance. Additionally, the workers put their own concerns above that of the organization and by nature they are resistant to changes. Finally, human beings are taken for granted to be easily manipulated and controlled. According to Boddy and Paton (1998, p. 201) it is of practice with Theory X philosophy to include time registration, supervision, quality checked by a superior as assigned in job description. The main focus of Theory X is that of external control, by systems, procedures or supervision. They believed that managers who accepted Theory X view would be inconsiderate in accepting aptitude of a normal human being (Boddy and Paton 1998, p. 200). Managers who assign to Theory X are expected to practice authoritarian style (Lewis, Goodman and Fandt 1998, p. 56). By contrast, Theory Y has assumptions which is completely opposite of Theory X. As per Theory Y, work is natural, and tries to occupy them actively and enjoy too. Furthermore, workers do not require detailed supervision and they are self-motivated. Additionally, it assumes that they work innovatively and creatively. If people are given a chance to...
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