The X and Y Theory of Management by Douglas McGregor

McGregor based his theory X on the lower order needs and the theory Y on the upper order needs. He suggested that either of the two theories can be used for management of people but theory Y was better than theory X.
Although the theory has some limitations, it is considered a path-breaking theory in the field of organizational behavior. These two diametrically opposite ways of managing people discuss two separate attitudes of managers. The manger in the X-theory is the authoritarian type of manager while Y-theory manager is the participative type. The essay will go on to study the two theories in details.
Based on the above assumptions, theory-X advocates closely supervising employees and giving them set verifiable tasks. Theory-X promotes a hierarchical structure with tight controls at each level. In this theory, to get employees to do work and meet organizational goals, the manager needs to resort to an authoritarian approach and order or tell people what to do. The employees are not considered responsible or intelligent enough to know what is best for them and the organization and have to be told. In this theory, the management or the manager makes the decisions and passes them on to employees who must do what they are ordered to do without any questions. Their opinion is not sought.
Theory X recommends two management styles: the soft approach and the hard approach. In the soft approach, the manager is permissive and seeks harmony and expects employee cooperation. In the hard approach, manger resorts to coercion, threats, tight supervision and control to get the desired outcome.
Neither of these two extremes of the X-theory is optimal and results in problems and frictions. In the hard approach, workers tend to get hostile and give low output intentionally. On the other hand, in the soft approach, workers are always making demands and asking for more rewards in return for lower productivity. The reason for these problems is that assumptions made by Theory X are wrong.