McGregor (1960) described two views on human motivation: Theory X and Y. Theory X, the more conventional one, holds the view that people are in themselves not intrinsically motivated to work and even attempt to avoid it, that people have no ambition, are resistant to change, are not particularly intelligent and that people only work for money and security. Management’s objective is to direct employees efforts, motivating them, controlling them and modifying their behavior to ensure that they behave in line with the organization’s needs and goals.
In contrast, Theory Y holds the view that work can be child’s play. People are committed, can work autonomous and still reach their work objectives, act responsible and are creative in fulfilling their tasks and dealing with problems. In principle, Theory X and Y are managerial theories, they reflect the propositions managers hold about their subordinates. Typical Theory X management is the traditional management style. Table 1 summarizes the underlying assumptions of both theories.
In this essay Theory X and Y are perceived as two ends of one continuum, this means that every individual holds both Theory X and Y- motivation attitudes, but the extent to which these theories prevail within individuals differ. As described in later developed economic agency theory, management driven by theory X assumptions (X management) needs to control behavior very strictly. The agent and principal have a conflict of interest and therefore agency of the agent is needed. Management driven by theory Y assumptions (Y management) would argue that employees need to be motivated by offering opportunities to satisfy their personal needs and by trusting the agent to fulfill their tasks correctly.
Theory X Theory Y
The average human is by nature indolent- he works as little as possible. The average human is not by nature passive or resistant to organizational needs. He may become so as a result of experience in organizations
He lacks ambition, dislikes responsibility, prefers to be led. He wants to actualize himself and strives for self-fulfillment.
He is inherently self-centered, indifferent to organizational needs. The motivation, the potential for development, the capacity for assuming the responsibility, the readiness to direct behavior toward organizational goals are all present in the average man.
He is by nature resistant to change. He is not by nature resistant when is safety needs are secured.
He is gullible, not very bright, the ready dupe of the charlatan and the demagogue
Johnson (1972) translates the ideas of McGregor into the structural setting of an organization. In his view Theory X- motivation corresponds with a X-system within organizations. The same holds for Theory Y, which corresponds with a Theory Y- structure. He stated that a feeling of dissonance is created in the worker when he is working under X-system conditions. According to him a worker is culturally...