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Unformatted text preview: D FOR THEORY X Douglas McGregor’s THSE is not a scientiﬁc treatise (Schrage 2000) although it was the
product of decades of work and study (Gabor 2000). THSE presented two (among many)
possible worldviews or “cosmologies” that managers bring to the workplace (McGregor
1960, 80). But the book was more than that: It was an effort to persuade managers to examine their assumptions closely. It was also a call to abandon Theory X management assumptions so that “future inventions” in management would be more than “minor changes
in already obsolescent conceptions” of human nature (McGregor 1960, 245). The language
used in the book demonstrates that McGregor intended his readers to react negatively to
his portrayal of Theory X management but that he was more circumspect in his presentation
of Theory Y ideals.
Two lines of reasoning justify this conclusion. First, McGregor himself conceded that
readers would consider his portrayal of Theory X assumptions overly harsh (1960, 45). Second, an analysis of the language of the two sets of assumptions is revealing. The Theory X
assumptions are simple, universal, declarative statements; Theory Y assumptions contain
many qualiﬁcations and modiﬁers. McGregor presented Theory X at a tenth-grade reading
level and Theory Y at a twelfth-grade reading level. A Flesch analysis of reading ease indicated that Theory X assumptions are easier to read than are Theory Y assumptions.8
To present a defense of Theory X, it is therefore necessary to remove the hyperbole
from McGregor’s discussion and revise the characteristics of Theory X so that they represent a more realistic set of assumptions. After we do that, we turn to a discussion of what circumstances and what kinds of employees would be conducive to a Theory X management
style. First, though, let us review the assumptions of a Theory X manager: These analyses were conducted using the Language functions in Word 97, Word 2000, WordPerfect Version 8,
and WordPerfect 2000. The analyses generally agreed in their results. 8 255 256 Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory • People d...
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