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Introduction to Theory X and Y

Discuss about the Theory X and Y for Douglas McGregor.

Theory X and Theory Y were initially presented in the early work of Douglas McGregor. McGregor's work had a huge effect on administrative thought. It showed up when the behavioral sciences were assuming an expanding part in how managers considered their work. It was a period portrayed by the work of Maslow, Likert, Argyris, and Herzberg, among others. Theory X and Y was be to reflected in various administration applications, and it would change the way individuals pondered execution evaluation, authoritative change, and initiative, to specify a couple. McGregor's thoughts further impacted such contemporary ways to deal with associations as Appreciative Inquiry and turned out to be a piece of the contention in regards to the all inclusive appropriateness of his thoughts. Further, his understudies turned into probably the most compelling patrons to the field of administration. This article endeavors to cover in some unassuming way the legacy of Theory X and Y and the work of Douglas McGregor(Peter Sorensen, 2015).

In principle X Mc Gregor condenses the conventional perspective of administration in various trademark suppositions in which imperious authority style, close supervision and the progressive standard are the key components. Theory X begins from the suspicion that individuals are normally languid, need to keep away from work however much as could reasonably be expected, don't wish to assume liability, have no desire and want to be regulated. The tyrant authority style is in this way the most suitable administration style in principle X. As per this theory, immaculate work inspiration comprises of money related motivating forces. Individuals need to maintain a strategic distance from work and they should be persistently pressured and controlled. Accordingly, the arrangement of prizes and disciplines works best for them. Moreover, their assignments and how these ought to execute, must be set down in point of interest. As indicated by this theory, individuals certainly don't wish to hold up under any obligation regarding their work.

Not at all like in principle X, McGregor begins from the suspicion in principle Y that individuals have diverse requirements. Theory Y accept that individuals are naturally cheerful to work , they need to endeavor and they are persuaded to seek after destinations. There is no requirement for the framework that includes prizes and disciplines. Individuals are set up to assume liability for all that they do. Individuals need to utilize their inventiveness and they jump at the chance to take an imaginative critical thinking approach.

The focal rule of theory Y is that of joining: people can accomplish their own particular objectives by likewise centering their endeavors on the goals of the association they work for. They need to get the most out of their work through fulfillment, thankfulness and inspiration. Theory Y welcomes reestablishment procedures and inspiration can be followed back to the style of administration. Theory Y in this manner accept that control, prizes and disciplines are by all account not the only approaches to invigorate individuals. Individuals can concentrate on the destinations they seek after through self-heading and discretion.

Theory X

A majority rule authority style emerges on the premise of theory Y which permits the representatives to have a more noteworthy say. Support and rewards are utilized as opposed to control and compulsion. Representatives are given a chance to create themselves and put their abilities to great use. At the point when an association does not react to this, representatives will begin searching for potential outcomes to convey their abilities outside their work. At first, they will concentrate on pastimes, advisory group and intentional work, however in the long run this could bring about a chase for another employment. 

McGregor's theory X and theory Y are not in view of a solitary truth. Theory X directors and Theory Y managers frequently see their view of individuals affirmed. The fair approach of theory Y makes individuals feel good as a consequence of which they confer themselves wholeheartedly to the association. Managers who expand on the essential standards of theory X, are frequently met with an endless loop in which their suppositions get to be reality and in which circumstances and end results are turned around. Their workers are usual to pressure and control and will in this way not attempt at all or bear duty.

A decent manager will understand that authority influences representative conduct. Notwithstanding their inclination for a specific initiative style and the work that must be done, an administrator will either pick hypothesis X or hypothesis Y. Theory X will sooner be actualized in mechanical associations where exercises spin around a high level of profitability. In examples where the reasoning procedure is essential and the worker is required to follow up on their own obligation, supervisors want to select theory Y. Inspiration is made in light of the individual worker's contribution and support(Vliet, 2015).

Example:Apple Inc. utilizes the McGregor X and Y hypothesis, to deal with his staff as well as to persuade the staff and the group in general also.

Hypothesis X, which is a more conventional methodology, expect that specialists are languid, absence of desire, don't care for obligations, narcissistic, apathetic regarding authoritative destinations, impervious to changes and are guileless. These specialists must be driven and oblige administration to intercede with carrot and stick administration. Occupations utilized carrot and stick, and figured out how to hold and rouse bunches of top-rack gifts. Employments kept his A group chose planners, software engineers and officials. The individuals who can work with him have a tendency to be faithful >>> include a situation – When individuals attempted to close down the Macintosh venture, he terminated those that conflict with the task and enlisted awesome representatives.

Actually, Theory Y accept that laborers have a mental need to work and will practice poise and activities when they are focused on an arrangement of goals. They likewise need accomplishment and look for duty. Ratzlaff, a mild-mannered innovative executive in Apple, had turned out with an energizing configuration for iMac. Nobody appears to bolster his new outline until Steve Jobs took a gander at his configuration and feel inspired. Employments complimented Ratzlaff and he felt cheerful as Jobs is a man who has exclusive standard which just few individuals can figure out how to give him what he required(Secanove, 2013). 

Theory Y

The theory of X and Y has been for a long time been criticized as bringing opposition to management but taking into consideration its aim, it seeks to bring developmental change in organizations. McGregor commenced formulating reasonable ideas about management.  According to McGregor, any manager who believes that the employees are not trustworthy, they are lazy, or are ever resistant to him or her; may end up making decisions that are dissimilar to a leader who considers the employees and beneficial, friendly and part of an organization. McGregor seeks to come up with ideas that help understand human conduct and human nature (Lorsch & Morse, 2013).

Africa 24 Media has utilized theory X in its staffing. I am a producer in this company. The CEO Asif Sheikh in 2015 believed that most of his employees were lazy and not able to accomplish their duties in time. He also perceived that most of them hated him and he decided to call a meeting and raised the concern. By late 2015, he consulted the COO on the reduced productivity in media products by the company. As a consequent, they realized some employees are really careless and cannot be trusted. The company finally retrenched 11 employees; among them were senior producers and editors. At the midst of this year, new employees have replaced those who were retrenched. I now realize gradual increase in media sales as per the sales reports that were read and distributed among employees. Some of the employees threatened to delete the content they had prepared from their folders in the server but were easily noticed and passwords got changed by the IT experts.

McGregor affirms that an ideal leader should not neglect responsibilities of making an organization cohesive and insist change within the acceptable frameworks. Thus, one cannot avoid authority in leadership any more. It is good for them to understand the employees’ behavior and nature. According to him, leaders should accept nature and the workers behavior. For instance, a leader can be hated in a company. Hatred exists and cannot be exclusive in any firm. In essence, managers ought to go an extra mile of conducting themselves in an understanding way to ensure they are in-line with majority of employees. (Turnley & Feldman, 2013)

In the X and Y theory, McGregor realized various assumptions that can be significant to determining the best practices of a manager. They explore the workability of this theory extensively. Managers therefore require governing, controlling, and arranging the workers in various manageable ways. In establishing the assumptions, theory X represented the traditional way of control and direction (Townsend, 2012).

Therefore, theory X has the following premises. First, the aggregate human being opts out for being directed and controlled. In this case, organizations should have strong leaders who can direct employees effectively so that every process runs in a desirable and productive way. For this reason individuals in a firm should be controlled, threatened, directed and coerced with sanction. In doing so, the persons in the organization are likely to gather more effort which can enhance smooth operations within the workplace in bid of meeting the objectives set in place. McGregor did believe that theory X presumptions were dominating in the contemporary industry but, this was not the case. However, the theorist realized a change from scientific administration to human relations. People were more taken into consideration in institutions. And so, he came up with theory Y (Tim, 2013).

Rule of Joining

Theory Y seeks to establish a contemporary commencing of fresh theory in regard to the human resources management. Theory Y therefore, had the following the presumptions: that the ideal person cannot dislike work.  In essence, the spending of mental and physical effort in workplace is natural just like playing and resting. Secondly, McGregor also realized that threatening employees for punishment and external controlling are not the only techniques for meeting the company’s obligations that can lead to successfulness in a competitive industry. It is believed that any employee has a self-control and self-direction that can guide them to work in effort to reach the organization’s obligations. They do not need an eye for every step of their undertakings. Thirdly, any dedication an employee can show in an organization is associated with the rewards of his or her attainments. The most important rewards are not limited to self-actualization and accomplishment of ego satisfaction (Rousseau,.2014).

Under normal conditions, the aggregate human being can learn. They as well value and accept responsibilities. Keeping off responsibility, lacking aspiration, and concentration security are usually the outcomes of go through; and not underlying human features. The potential to exercise a high level of creativity, imagination, and ingenuity in providing solutions to organizational challenges is broadly spread among the population. This assumption is essential as it equips the organization with more skilled individuals. Under the normal conditions of the contemporary industrial era, the crucial capabilities of individuals are partly used in the organization’s process (Robinson & Rousseau, 2012).

McGregor affirms that theory Y is a conjoining of organizational and individual objectives. According to him, theory Y is responsible for the establishment of the conditions that individuals can develop themselves in by ensuring their business grows well. It is possible when employees direct their efforts to the organization’s objectives.

The theorist asserts that any leader who acknowledges theory Y is likely to spend less time in managing the organization’s structure, control and supervision. They also assist the maturation of the subordinate staff by letting them execute roles with minimal supervision and allocating tasks that can equip them with a wider job scope within their workplace. Such leaders encourage the staff, train and motivate them. Also, the leaders or managers accepting the Y model use limited external control to enhance employee performance or productivity. With them, instead of using much of external control, they urge employees to develop by working towards achieving the goals of the organization. In this way, a business will grow and the staff gets considerable motivation. In this theory, the only way employees can achieve goals is through achieving the goals of the organization they work in everyday.

However, majority have misunderstood McGregor’s theory. They claim that it brings resistance to the organizations due to the fact that X and Y repel and symbolizes opposing culture or beliefs in any company. It should be understood that theory X and Y do not mean the repelling polarities. In theory X and Y, McGregor tries to bridge the old perspective of human relation and new organization humanism that exists in the contemporary industrial life. Initially, people could be treated in a way that is not friendly since, managers had not realized the significant of human relations in the workplace. McGregor believed that presumptions about people in an organization could change and be positive to the management and among them. He hoped that people could be trusted by the management and able to associate their personal objectives to those of the organization. If the leaders could believe that they workers are lazy and untrustworthy, then they could treat the employees in an unfriendly manner that might give rise to other issues (Robinson & Morrison, 2013).


Theories Y and X were simply a collection of presumptions concerning human well-being in workplace. It presented 20th century re-egression of fresh ideas by initial philosophers such as Robert Owen. Their main idea was to establish humanity goodness to fit in the society and organizations within it.

Over a long period, the contribution of people has been realized in organizations especially in achieving the firm’s objectives.  In essence, the traditional economic theory defines the production as labor, capital, land, and entrepreneur. Where the most significant are the employees; who are termed as working machines by Robert Owen.  In managing the employees for the best performance, they deserve reasonable treatment.  The process of staffing, recruiting, training and selection. However, motivation and good remuneration is another key practice required in organizations. The employees should be retained and governed with less external control to work with minimal supervision.

Max Weber’s theory of administration  which is also called bureaucratic management is established on the fundamentals of scientific management theory. Just as Taylor did, Weber also stressed for proficiency system that is based on the standardized protocols and differentiated chain of command or administration.  The key difference that exists  between Weber’s theory and  theory X and Y as a management theory is that as Max Weber highlighted the fundamentals a considerate bureaucracy , he also spoke of the risks a genuine bureaucracy could encounter (Robinson, 2014). The significant fundamentals Max Weber pointed out include clear definition of job roles, authority’s hierarchy, standardized management procedures, good record keeping and hiring the persons with certain qualifications that regard the vacant position. In theory X and Y, McGregor affirms the relevance of human relations in the organization.  it is clearly seen that McGregor seeks to tell how and why employees should be trusted and let to work with minimal supervision. According to him, employees should meet their goals by meeting those of the organization. However, he believes application of minimal external force gives employees an opportunity to accomplish their tasks effectively without much supervision. McGregor talks more or tries to build a good environment for the workers than for the management. Max Weber theory  is much more about management team or administrators (Robinson, Kraatz & Rousseau, 2012).

If theory Y can hold, an organization can carry numerous activities to boost motivational synergy of its workers. Delegation and decentralization helps the firm to decentralize direction and minimize the quantity of levels of administration. Every manager will have more other people under him or her. The managers will also be required to give some responsibilities or duties and decision making tasks to them. With theory Y, jobs can be broadened in terms of scope for all the employees as this equips them with more skills. They will establish an opportunity to content themselves with ego wants. Participative management will help in making of decisions to ensure collective responsibility towards the decisions made (Morrison & Robinson, 2013).

Exploring on Maslow’s hierarchy, McGregor asserts that a satisfied want no longer incites. With theory X, the organization depends on funds and benefits the workers’ little needs, and the moment those are met, the drive for motivation gets lost. Theory X management model alters satisfaction especially on the upper level wants. Similarly, the only and best manner in which the staff can respond to their high-level wants is through demanding more salary. Therefore, it is a bit predictable that they may concentrate on financial rewards (McGraw-Hill, 2015). Because money cannot be the only way to enable employees achieve self-fulfillment, theory X proposes a good environment in the workplace. In theory X individuals utilize work to satisfy the lower or little needs attempt to satisfy their high-level needs at their free time. However, employees can be most productive when they are seeking to satisfy their high-level needs. McGregor reminds here that; a control and command environment is not appropriate because it depends on lower wants as motivation levers (McGregor, 2010). In the modern society, those high-level needs are already satisfied, and therefore, they are no more incentives. In this scenario, employees can be expected to disapprove their work, neglect duties, lack interest in organizational objectives, and oppose change; therefore making theory X a self-satisfying prediction. Then McGregor came up with theory Y (McGregor, 2014).

Based on the analysis, it can be deduced that companies are likely to progress well through combining the theories of management. Theory X and Y has various good attributes. A number of the can conjoined with those of Max Weber. Companies that have for any time showed a combination of these strategies might have set a record at any given time.  If the theories could be combined by the leader, then organizations could perform to their maximum levels.


Lorsch, J. & Morse, J., “Beyond Theory Y”, Harvard Business Review, May–June 2013

"Management Styles". Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved 27 March 2013.

McGregor, D., “Leadership and Motivation: Essays”, MIT Press, 1966; 2014

McGregor, D., “The Human Side of Enterprise”, McGraw-Hill, 2010; annotated edn,

McGraw-Hill, 2015.“Till death us do part . . .”: Changing work relationships in the 1990s.Trends in Organizational Behavior, 1: 111–136.

Morrison, E.W., & Robinson, S. L. 2013. When employees feel betrayed: A model of how psychological contract violation develops. Academy of Management Review, 22: 226–256.

Peter Sorensen, T. Y., 2015. Theory X and Theory Y. Business and Management.

Robinson, S. L., Kraatz, M. S., & Rousseau, D. M. 2012. Changing obligations and the psychological contract: A longitudinal study. Academy of Management Journal, 37: 137–152.

Robinson, S. L. 2014 Trust and breach of the psychological contract. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41:574–599.

Robinson, S. L., &Morrison, E.W. 2013. Psychological contracts and OCB: The effect of unfulfilled obligations on civic virtue behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 16: 289–298.

Robinson, S. L., & Rousseau, D. M. 2012. Violating the psychological contract: Not the exception but the norm.Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15: 245–259.

Rousseau, D. M. 2014 Psychological and implied contracts in organizations. Employee Responsibilities and RightsJournal, 2: 121–139.

Secanove, A., 2013. [Online]
Available at:

 Tim H. 2013, Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus”, The Economist (Profile Books; 322 pages; £20).

Townsend, R., “Up the Organisation”, Michael Joseph, 2012; reprinted as “Further Up the Organisation”,

Turnley, W. H., & Feldman, D. C. 2013. The impact of psychological contract violations on exit, voice, loyalty, and neglect. Human Relations, 52: 895–922.

Vliet, V. v., 2015. Theory x and theory y by Douglas McGrego. Management
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