Essays > Psychology Featured — 26 June 2013

Theory X and Theory Y are theories of human motivation created and developed by Douglas McGregor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1960s.

They have been used in human resource management, organizational behavior, organizational communication and organizational development. They describe two contrasting models of workforce motivation.Theory X and Theory Y have to do with the perceptions managers hold on their employees, not the way they generally behave. It is attitude not attributes.

Theory X

In this theory, which has been proven counter effective in most modern practice, management assumes employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can and that they inherently dislike work. As a result of this, management believes that workers need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed. A hierarchical structure is needed with narrow span of control at each and every level.

According to this theory, employees will show little ambition without an enticing incentive program and will avoid responsibility whenever they can. If the organizational goals are to be met, theory X managers rely heavily on threat and coercion to gain their employees’ compliance. Beliefs of this theory lead to mistrust, highly restrictive supervision, and a punitive atmosphere.

The Theory X manager tends to believe that everything must end in blaming someone. He or she thinks all prospective employees are only out for themselves. Usually these managers feel the sole purpose of the employee’s interest in the job is money. They will blame the person first in most situations, without questioning whether it may be the system, policy, or lack of training that deserves the blame. A Theory X manager believes that his or her employees do not really want to work, that they would rather avoid responsibility and that it is the manager’s job to structure the work and energize the employee.

One major flaw of this management style is it is much more likely to cause dis-economies of scale in large business.

Theory Y

In this theory, management assumes employees may be ambitious and self-motivated and exercise self-control. It is believed that employees enjoy their mental and physical work duties. According to them work is as natural as play. They possess the ability for creative problem solving, but their talents are underused in most organizations.Given the proper conditions, theory Y managers believe that employees will learn to seek out and accept responsibility and to exercise self-control and self-direction in accomplishing objectives to which they are committed.

A Theory Y manager believes that, given the right conditions, most people will want to do well at work. They believe that the satisfaction of doing a good job is a strong motivation. Many people interpret Theory Y as a positive set of beliefs about workers.

A close reading of The Human Side of Enterprise reveals that McGregor simply argues for managers to be open to a more positive view of workers and the possibilities that this creates. He thinks that Theory Y managers are more likely than Theory X managers to develop the climate of trust with employees that is required for human resource development. It’s human resource development that is a crucial aspect of any organization. This would include managers communicating openly with subordinates, minimizing the difference between superior-subordinate relationships, creating a comfortable environment in which subordinates can develop and use their abilities.

This climate would be sharing of decision making so that subordinates have say in decisions that influence them.

ten commandments held by Charlton Heston

The ten commandments of the Bible
  1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
  2. You shall have no other gods before me.
  3. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  4. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The ten non-commandments of Osho

You ask for my ten commandments.
This is very difficult because I am against any sort of commandment.
Yet just for the fun of it I set down what follows:

  1. Obey no orders except those from within.
  2. The only God is life itself.
  3. Truth is within, do not look for it elsewhere.
  4. Love is prayer.
  5. Emptiness is the door to truth, it is the means, the end and the achievement.
  6. Life is here and now.
  7. Live fully awake.
  8. Do not swim, float.
  9. Die each moment so that you are renewed each moment.
  10. Stop seeking. That which is, is: stop and see.

Osho, A Cup of Tea (123)

Question

a. The ten commandments of the Bible belong to Theory X or Theory Y?
b. The ten non-commandments by Osho belong to Theory X or Theory Y?

Antar Marc, Osho News

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