1906 – 1964
Douglas McGregor was an American social psychologist best known for Theory X and Theory Y; opposing assumptions about human behaviour behind every management decision or action.
Building on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, McGregor set out two opposing assumptions about human nature and motivation.
People are lazy, dislike work and need threat of job loss and financial incentives to work hard. They need direction and control and cannot take responsibility.
People need to work, actively seek responsibility, and are generally creative and resourceful. They will be self-directed to achieve objectives that meet both organisational and individual goals. Intellectual potential needs to be utilised.
Douglas McGreogr said that management style and decision-making depends on which theory management believes applies to their staff. Theory X was adopted by traditional Taylor-ist management, and Theory Y by more modern management thinkers, following Elton Mayo’s human relations approach.