Happy 101st Birthday to the Father of Motivational Theory

18 September 2007

September 16th would have been the 101st birthday of Douglas McGregor, the MIT psychology professor who, in 1960, authored “Theory X and Theory Y”. This work described conceptually opposing methods of successful managers. X and Y - differing attitudes toward workforce motivation – were considered an innovative perspective emanating from the industrial revolution.

Theory X assumes that employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can. So management means close supervision. Theory X managers fix blame and discipline participants. Contrarily, a “Theory Y manager- assumes all people are ambitious, self-motivated, and anxious to accept responsibility. The idea is that employees seek good; exercise self-control, be self-directed, and operate autonomously. Management motivates through empowerment.

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