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Douglas McGregor's Motivation & Management Theories

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  • 0:00 Motivation in the Workplace
  • 0:37 Definition &…
  • 0:57 Definition &…
  • 1:50 Validity of Theory X & Y
  • 2:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Swarthout
Douglas McGregor proposed two theories about employee motivation based on two very different sets of assumptions that managers hold towards workers. Learn more about the assumptions and validity of McGregor's employee motivation theories, and take a quiz to test your knowledge.

Motivation in the Workplace

What motivates you to do a great job when you go to work? Do you care about the goals of the organization that you work for, or do you focus more on getting a regular paycheck to bring home? Douglas McGregor studied these questions and proposed two different views of employee motivation in his 1960 book 'The Human Side of Enterprise.' These views are known as Theory X and Theory Y.

Definition and Assumptions of Theory X

Theory X is based on a pessimistic view of employee motivation and behavior. Theory X assumes that employees dislike work, are not ambitious, want to avoid responsibility, dislike change, and are self-centered.

Managers who hold these assumptions believe that employees can only be motivated by money, promotions, and job security. Such managers are likely to use more of a command and control approach with their employees. Employees will cooperate if they feel their basic needs for income and security will be met.

Definition and Assumptions of Theory Y

Theory Y is based on an optimistic view of employee motivation and behavior. Theory Y assumes that employees enjoy work that is meaningful, are willing to take on responsibility, and are willing to work for organizational goals or causes they believe in. Theory Y also assumes that employees are capable of creativity, ingenuity, and self-direction.

Managers who hold these assumptions believe that employees are motivated not just by material needs, but also by higher-level needs, such as self-esteem and a sense of fulfillment. Since these are continuous needs throughout life, managers should address these needs when seeking to motivate employees. Giving employees more authority, broadening the scope of their jobs, and allowing them to have a say in decision-making can all motivate employees to work hard for the organization.

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