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Douglas Mc Gregor’s theory

Category: HRM

The American writer Douglas McGregor described two contrasting assumptions about the behaviour of employees, called theory X and theory Y.

Theory X leaders, he suggests, make the following assumptions about their subordinates:

The average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if he can.

Because of this dislike of work, most people must be coerced, directed, controlled, and threatened wih punishment to get them to do the job.

The average human being prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition and wants security above all.

Theory Y leaders, he suggests, make the following assumptions about their subordinates:

The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play.

External control and the threat of punishment are not the only means of inducing people to work. Self-control is often indispensable in achieving the same objective.

An individual’s commitment to a task is dependent on the self-respect and personal achievement he earns.

The capacity to exercise a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in the solution of organisational problems is widely distributed in the population.

The potential of the average human being is only partly used.

McGregor does not come down firmly on one side or the other. Neither, as it is often suggested, does he intend the two theories to be seen as two extremes.

McGregor suggests that leader attitudes and behaviour have too long been based on theory x and goes on to argue that theory y is more consistent with recent psychological and sociological research. he took the view that theory y was he correct assumption to make, and that organisations should operate on that basis. jobs should be so constructed that it gives employees the opportunity for full self-development. just as the principle of theory x is “the carrot and the stick”

So the principle underlying theory Y is the integration of personal and corporate objectives.

Neither theory guarantees success and neither is in fact a style or method of management. Each is a set of assumptions that may lead to various strategies. Which set of strategies is appropriate must be judged according to the individual situation.

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