• Post category:Business

What is Theory X and Theory Y

Theory X and Theory Y are management theories about two different types of manager style, and motivation in the organization that was published by Douglas McGregor in his book, “The Human Side of Enterprise” in 1960s.

Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y are used to identify the type of manager by dividing the leader or the manager into two groups (Theory X and Y), according to how leader manage their employees and how they believe what drives their employees by nature.

  • Theory X assume that’s the worker don’t want to work, but they just need money.
  • Theory Y assume that most people want to work by themselves and they have responsibility. 

Both Douglas McGregor’s theory X and theory Y are one of famous motivation theory and leadership theory for understanding the management style of managers.


Key Points

  • Theory X and Theory Y is a work of Douglas McGregor. The theory X and theory Y are management theories about 2 different type of manager style, based on how they believe what driven their employees by nature.
  • Theory X assume that’s the worker don’t want to work, but they just need money. Theory X manager will use a strict rules and punishments to make sure the work will complete.
  • Theory Y assume that most people want to work by themselves and they have responsibility. Theory Y manager does not need to force their staff, but simply make a positive contribution to these employees.

Theory X

Theory X manager believe that most people are driven by monetary concerns and not like their work. So, these people will avoid their responsibility whenever possible and ignorance to organization needs.

According to the assumptions, Theory X manager will do anything to make sure his or her team member will complete their works by using strict rules, rewards, and punishments.

Theory X leader believes that their workers are:

  • Works because they need money.
  • People are naturally lazy to work and don’t like their job.
  • Lack of ambition and responsibility.
  • Unconcerned their organizational needs.
  • Lack of creativity and don’t like to change.
  • They are lack of motivation in doing things including self development.
  • Need to be in control and force to do their work.

Theory X assumes people are lazy. The leader needs to control their staff closely with rules and punishments to make things done.

Theory Y

Theory Y manager believes their employees are internally motivated, want to work, have a responsibility, and can work without reward and force. As you can see, the Theory Y manager style is the opposite of the theory x management.

From such behavior, the leader of the Y theory type does not need to force their staff or need serious control to motivate them to work. Leaders simply make a positive contribution to these employees such as: promote, reward, and good environment for working.

Theory Y leaders assume that their workers are:

  • People diligent and need to work with their job.
  • Internally motivated and actively to do their job.
  • People have responsibility and ambition.
  • People are want to work successfully.
  • Employees have the creative mind and welcome the change.

 As you can imagine, most of organizations are seeking for Theory Y employees.

Theory Y leaders are assuming people are diligent and work because their responsibility and ambition.


If you’re looking for management theory with an alphabet in its name, we suggest you to learn more about the Theory Z of Japanese Management