Unformatted text preview: and how the assumptions or mental models that managers used to interpret workers’
actions and behaviors led them into speciﬁc counterproductive behaviors (1960, 33). McGregor believed that the average manager operated under a set of assumptions he called
classical management, or Theory X management:
• People dislike work and will avoid it if possible.
• Most people must be “coerced, controlled, directed, and threatened with punishment to get them” to work (McGregor 1960, 33–34).
• The average human prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has little
ambition, and wants security.
These assumptions lead managers to deny employees control over their work environment
and to use methods of inﬂuence that are direct and harsh. Theory X managers emphasize the
chain of command, reward-or-punishment motivational techniques, and close supervision of
subordinate behavior along rigidly deﬁned behavioral parameters. McGregor argued that
classical management practice was hindering rather than helping organizations solve problems, meet goals, and deliver a product in a reliable manner (1960, 62–64; 1966, 29–30).
A Theory X management style assumes that people are interested in safety and physiological needs rather than higher needs, but McGregor believed that workers in the 1950s
had moved beyond lower needs and were seeking to meet social or esteem needs (1960,
40). Based on that conclusion, he proposed a new set of managerial assumptions, which he
called Theory Y management:
• The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest.
• External control and the threat of punishment are not the only means for bringing
about effort toward organizational objectives. Man will exercise self-direction and
self-control in the service of objectives to which he is committed.
• Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their
• The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept
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