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seeking direction in the execution of their jobs (Aeppel 1997, for example).
A manager operating under these assumptions would use a directive approach to managing,
allowing employees only limited autonomy and discretion. A Theory X manager is more
concerned with performance and “getting product out the door” than about meeting the
emotional or developmental needs of his or her subordinates.9
Under what circumstances would Theory X management be appropriate? If we redeﬁne Theory X assumptions as adaptive and Theory Y assumptions as innovative,10 then we
may make a number of conclusions about when Theory X management is appropriate. When
facing routine or detailed tasks, an adaptive style is most likely to be successful. Kirton argued that adaptive managers are more appropriate when a team is composed of innovators,
because the adapter would be able to keep the rest of the team on schedule (Kirton 1989b).
Note that even in the Mouton and Blake Managerial Grid, the assumption is that creativity means innovation,
rather than adaptation.
10 This is not entirely correct, for it is possible for an adaptive personality to approach management from a Theory
Y perspective and vice versa. However, for purposes of discussion, the analogy may be made.
9 Bobic and Davis A Kind Word for Theory X Adapters are also more successful at “doing things better,” while innovators are more successful at “doing things differently” (Korth 2000). What one wants in a manager depends
upon the task being performed.
Kirton (1978) noted that companies tended to seek out adapters rather than innovators, because adapters tended to ﬁt well into bureaucratic organizations. On the other hand,
Holland (1987) demonstrated that adapters had difﬁculty coping with an industry undergoing rapid change in technology or procedures. Foxall, Payne, and Walters (1987) argued
that innovative managers were better suited to tasks that involved external relations for an
organization, while adapters were more suited to tasks involving the internal operations of
an organization. McNeilly and Goldsmith (1992) note that e...
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