Theory X

A theory coined by Douglas McGregor

Management vs Employment Perspective

Manager: Theory X managers must rely heavily on the threat of punishment to gain compliance of employees. When practiced, this theory can lead to mistrust, highly restrictive supervision and a punitive atmosphere.

Employee: According to this theory, employees will show little ambition without an enticing incentive program and will avoid responsibility when they can.

What does Theory X mean?

-Type X individuals are considered to be inherently lazy and not fond of their jobs.

-As an outcome, an authoritarian management style is required to ensure that individuals fulfill their objectives.

-Workers managed this way need to be closely supervised under comprehensive systems of control.

-A hierarchical structure is needed with narrow span of control at each and every level.

-This assumes that employees are naturally unmotivated and dislike working, and this encourages an authoritarian style of management.

-According to this view, management must actively intervene to get things done.

Little delegation of authority and control remains firmly centralized.


Why is Theory X good?

-The work will get done faster due to the managers micro-managing the workers and keeping them on task.

-Work will be done like clockwork with little room for error, because of the time and quality limits being placed on the worker.

-This managerial style is more effective when used to motivate a workforce that is not inherently motivated to perform


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Why is Theory X bad?

-There is often a higher rate of poor job satisfaction, because the manager does not trust the employee to do the appropriate work on his or her own.

-This theory requires that the employees are robotic in performing their duties, they need input in order to produce output.

-The employees are more likely to avoid work or become more distracted once the manager is out of sight.

-One major flaw of this management style is that it limits employee potential and discourages out of the box thinking.

Real Life Example

A Theory X type manager would be more inclined to use tangible rewards as incentives. They assume their authority is resented and adopt regulations that are designed to enforce compliance

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