[Back]  [Menu]  [Next]

Related Resources

Learning Environment Design Framework
Instructional Design Toolkit

ISD Concept Map
ISD Concept Map

An excellent book on McGregor is Douglas McGregor, Revisited: Managing the Human Side of the Enterprise by Gary Heil, Warren Bennis & Deborah C. Stephens.

Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor (1906 - 1964) is one of the forefathers of management theory and one of the top business thinkers of all time. He was a social psychologist who became the President of Antioch College. He later became a professor of management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (he was succeeded by Warren Bennis). His book The Human Side of Enterprise (1960) had a profound influence on the management field, largely due to his Theory X and Theory Y.

McGregor developed a philosophical view of humankind with his Theory X and Theory Y in 1960. His work is based upon Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, in that he grouped the hierarchy into lower-order needs (Theory X) and higher-order needs (Theory Y). He suggested that management could use either set of needs to motivate employees, but better results would be gained by the use of Theory Y, rather than Theory X. These two opposing perceptions theorized how people view human behavior at work and organizational life:

Theory X

With Theory X assumptions, management's role is to coerce and control employees.

Theory Y

With Theory Y assumptions, management's role is to develop the potential in employees and help them to release that potential towards common goals.

Intellectual creativity cannot be 'programmed' and directed the way we program and direct an assembly line or an accounting department. This kind of intellectual contribution to the enterprise cannot be obtained by giving orders, by traditional supervisory practices, or by close systems of control. Even conventional notions of productivity are meaningless with reference to the creative intellectual effort. Management has not yet considered in any depth what is involved in managing an organization heavily populated with people whose prime contribution consists of creative intellectual effort. — from Douglas McGregor's essay, New Concepts of Management.

For more information, see Leadership and Human Behavior.

Next Steps

[Back]  [Menu]  [Next]