Key Difference – Theory X vs Theory Y
Theory X and Theory Y were introduced in 1960 by Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist in his book ‘The Human Side of Enterprise.’ This is one of the most famous motivational theories in management. In combination, both approaches are referred to as Theory XY. Theory XY remains central to organizational development, and to improving organizational culture and is developed based on the basis that there are fundamental approaches to managing people based on their characteristics. The key difference between Theory X and Theory Y is that Theory X assumes that employees dislike work; they want to avoid it and do not want to take responsibility whereas Theory Y assumes that employees are self-motivated, and flourish on responsibility.
What is Theory X?
Theory X assumes that employees dislike work; they want to avoid it and do not want to take responsibility. Theory X is also known as ‘authoritative management style.’ According to McGregor, Theory X employees have to be controlled and coerced as they are only motivated by financial rewards.
Due to the above characteristics of the employees, managers have to impose duties on them to get the work done and supervise them on a continuous basis. In the 20th century, Theory X management style dominated many businesses where the managers perceived that the employees had the above-described traits. In such environments, employees were not motivated to achieve quality and improvement and career progression. Later, Theory X has been considered as a negative way of dealing with employees due to the inherent negative aspects of the theory. Due to this reason, it is very difficult to achieve organizational excellence since the human capital does not adequately support the same.
Direct supervision and emphasis on achieving targets may be somewhat suitable for manufacturing-related organizations. However, such an approach is extremely difficult to adopt in service related organizations.
What is Theory Y?
Also referred to as ‘participative management style,’ theory Y assumes that employees are self-motivated, and flourish on responsibility. Theory Y employees are dedicated towards work, thus need minimum supervision. They are motivated by a combination of financial rewards and non-financial rewards such as empowerment and teamwork.
Managers are likely to give more responsibilities and empower Theory Y employees since they are committed to their work and are enthusiastic about performing well. Further, since they are not motivated by financial rewards alone, it is important to get them involved in the decision-making process. Imposition of decisions on theory Y employees will lead to their dissatisfaction, and this will negatively affect organizational performance. Theory Y approach to management has gained increased popularity compared to theory X approach since the objectives of the organization can be better linked to the objectives of the employees. Teamwork, quality circles, and brainstorming sessions are used in theory Y organizations in order to provide platforms for employees to share their ideas and opinions.
What is the difference between Theory X and Theory Y?
Theory X vs Theory Y
|Theory X assumes that employees dislike work; they want to avoid it and do not want to take responsibility.||Theory Y assumes that employees are self-motivated, and flourish on responsibility.|
|Nature of Management Style|
|Theory X is an authoritative management style.||Theory Y is a participative management style.|
|Theory X was the predominant management style during the 20th century.||Modern organizations increasingly adopt Theory Y management style.|
|Theory X employees are mainly motivated by financial rewards.||Non-financial rewards are the main motivator for Theory Y employees.|
Summary – Theory X vs Theory Y
The difference between theory X and theory Y is that theory X employees are associated with negative traits whereas theory Y employees are associated with positive traits. In general, many managers influenced by theory X usually generate poor results. On the other hand, managers use theory Y produces better performance and results and allows people to grow and develop. However, some academics and practitioners criticize Theory XY as a management approach since they argue that employees possess both negative and positive traits depending on each situation. Thus situational management style should be used in order to generate optimum results.
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