What Do You Know About Douglas McGregor And Theory X And Theory Y?


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Douglas M. McGregor (1906-1964) was a professor, a college president, and later a consultant who specialized in psychology. Searching for a practical management principle that incorporated the social science perspective, McGregor developed Theory X and Theory Y to describe two extreme examples of the ways in which managers can relate to employees. His Theory X described the traditional management view that employees are lazy and that they dislike work, so they must he driven to perform. In contrast, Theory Y managers view employees as willing to accept responsibility, able to be creative in their approaches to work, and without an inherent distaste for work when they are committed to the organization's goals.

McGregor favored Theory Y management, saying that managers should rely on employee self-direction rather than external controls to achieve performance, and in fact em¬ployees should be able to choose the methods they will use to attain organiza¬tional goals. This method implies a trust of employees and an ability to let them fully participate in the organization. But to apply Theory Y, managers must be ready to change their assumptions about human nature and to help employees realize their own potential. McGregor's theories echoed Maslow's ideas about self-actualization, and both presented new concepts of manager-employee rela¬tions and the potential contributions of individuals.

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