Theory X Theory Y (McGregor)
Theory Z (Ouchi)

Knowledge Center


Hard or Soft Management? Explanation of Theory X Theory Y of McGregor. ('60). Explanation of Theory Z by William Ouchi. ('81)


  1. Summary
  2. Forum
  3. Expert Tips
  4. Resources


Theory X Theory Y Theory Z?

Why register?

What is Theory X and Y? Description

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous Theory X and Theory Y models in his book 'The Human Side Of Enterprise' (1960).


Theory X

Theory Y


Humans inherently dislike working and will try to avoid it if they can. People view work as being as natural as play and rest. Humans expend the same amount of physical and mental effort in their work as in their private lives.
  Because people dislike work they have to be coerced or controlled by management and threatened so they work hard enough. Provided people are motivated, they will be self-directing to the aims of the organization. Control and punishment are not the only mechanisms to let people perform.
  Average employees want to be directed. Job satisfaction is key to engaging employees and ensuring their commitment.
  People don't like responsibility. People learn to accept responsibility and seek responsibility. Average humans, under the proper conditions, will not only accept, but even naturally seek responsibility.
  Average humans are clear and unambiguous and want to feel secure at work. People are imaginative and creative. Their ingenuity should be used to solve problems at work.


Shop Floor, Mass Manufacturing. Production workers. Professional Services, Knowledge Workers. Managers and Professionals.

Conducive to

Large scale efficient operations. Management of Professionals, Participative Complex Problem Solving.

Management Style

Authoritarian, Hard Management. Participative, Soft Management.

McGregor sees Theory Y as the preferable model and management method, however he thought Theory Y was difficult to use in large-scale operations.

Theory Z - Ouchi

In 1981, William Ouchi came up with a variant that combined American and Japanese management practices together to form Theory Z, having the following characteristics: long-term employment - collective decision-making - individual responsibility - slow evaluation & promotion - implicit, informal control with explicit, formalized measures - moderately specialized career paths - and a holistic concern for the employee, including family.

Theory X Theory Y Theory Z Forum (28 topics) Help
To get access to this forum, you need to be a member: Please log in... | Register
  Theory X, Y and Z in Government Organizations
HI. I'd like to know your thoughts on Theories X, Y and Z (McGregor and Ouchi) in governmental organizations.
To what extent are they applicable to management, administration and employee empowerment in such bureaucracies?...

Why Participative Management is Needed in Today's High Tech World

Managing in today's organization is very complex due to the rapid change in technology. In order to remain competitive many organizations have to change management styles so they can effectively deliver to the consumer.
A key part of managing f...

McGregor's XY Model is not a Model For Action

The real Theory Z is that people don't understand that this XY model is not a model for action. It has been developed to analyze and provide a rationale for why there is conflict in organisations and to oversimplify the problems, not as a basis for p...

Theory U: The origin of leadership is irrelevant

Individuals at the top, middle, and bottom of the organization could informally personify leadership without a hierarchical role, as part of a process to create value despite changing conditions according to Cashman (1998) and Scharmer (2007).

In Practice you Need to Combine Theories

It is not possible to put just one theory into practise without borrowing few elements from another. I am of the view that all the theories are interchangeable....

It's Time for Theory Z

Long term employment may be seen as security of tenure. Several years ago, I carried out a study in Exeter and discovered that security of tenure topped the list of what motivated workers.
Another interesting part of Theory Z is concer...

Dress Code, Bold Voice, Self Confidence and Motivation Power

Whenever you try to guide someone, following three leadership factors affect your mission to leadership. You should always:
- Maintain a professional dress code
- Speak with a bold sound of self realization, and
- Feel a high mo...

Applying Theory Z in Practice

People with enough motivation and empowerment do not need to be coerced to work. The trick is to lay down parameters and clearly define the scope of work with accountability and responsibility. It is amazing to see the innovations and fun at work. Th...

Growing from Theory X to Z to Y

- Theory X naturally comes to play at the inception of almost every business undertaking.
- In the growing stage of a business, when management realises its strong hands (competent employees), the value of utilizing/ retaini...

Theory Y is a Farce in Practice

I personally do not have much faith that theory Y is real in practice. May be happening in highly professionalised industries. But as we all know human ingenuity is always there.
Theory X (autocratic style) still continues practically behind the...

Job Requirements Influence X or Y

Theory X and Y are dependent on the job requirements also.
One can't be participative on all situations / jobs. The value of the individual, job requirement, and the culture of the orgigin influence the behavior of the employee....

Role of Perception and Turbulence

Theory X, Theory Y and Theory Z bring to mind the role of perception and judgmental attributions of a person's action and behavior. Greatly influenced by organisational repositioning response to the ever changing pestle factors and likewise the worke...

Contigency Management Principle

Theory Y and theory X metamorphose into the Contingency Theory. There is no particular best style of management, but the situation and environment which necessitate the leadership style....

No Prototypical Behavior

I personally do not believe in prototypical behavior. This means that people act the way they act based on circumstances. Thus in our social intercourse and discourses we shall always fall into either of these 3 theories. It is therefore prude...

Theory Z Explanation

Explain the Theory Z in brief as by little explanation its difficult to judge. Moreover, it is a more practical approach and tends to todays professional requirements....

Threatening Workers does not Work

Workers are suppose to be motivated and not be threatened like in theory X because if you threaten them the performance can not match the effort, need and organizational goals....

Contribution for Today?

What is the relevance of theory X and Y theory Z to modern management for today?...

The Role of Favoritism in Recruitment

Theory X and Theory Y are dependent too on recruitment and selection processes. When favoritism plays a part in these exercises, definitely the model of the theories will collapse....

The Role of Empowerment

We will always have X & Y type of people. What can make an X turn into an Y and vice a versa is EMPOWERMENT. If I can empower X he will turn into Y and the opposite will work too....

Theory X and Theory Y: Administration vs. Management

From what can be seen in the summary, in my opinion we can make a clear distinction between administration and management.
The way I see it, Theory X indicates characteristics of administration and Theory Y indicates characteristics of manageme...
See 8 more topics: Please log in... | RegisterStart a new discussion: Please log in... | Register

Theory X Theory Y Theory Z Special Interest Group

Special Interest Group

Theory X Theory Y Theory Z Education & Events

Find Trainings, Seminars and Events

Expert Tips - Theory X Theory Y Theory Z Premium
Discover and utilize expert tips per method: Please log in... | Register

Self-fulfilling Prophesies

Further information

Differences in Organizational Commitment Between Paid Workers and Volunteers

Organizational Commitment, Employee Motivation, Non-profit Organizations

Theory X problem


Resources - Theory X Theory Y Theory Z Premium
Access presentations, news and videos on each method: Please log in... | Register

How to Become a Master Manager?

Introduction to Managing People. Know Thyself

Human Motivation

Motivating Employees

Theory X Management Style

Introduction to Motivation, Workshops, Trainings

The X Model of Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement, Organizational Commitment, Amployee Attitude

How to Achieve Employee Engagement

Employee Empowerment, Employee Participation, Participative Management, Participative Leadership


Theory Mcgregor


Theory Ouchi


Theory Mcgregor


Theory Ouchi


Theory Mcgregor


Theory Ouchi


Theory Mcgregor


Theory Ouchi

Compare with Theory X Theory Y:  Leadership Styles  |  Managerial Grid  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Situational Leadership  |  Bases of Social Power  |  EPIC ADVISERS  |  Hierarchy of Needs  |  Expectancy Theory  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  Hawthorne Effect  |  ERG Theory  |  Herzberg Two Factor Theory  |  Change Management  |  Seven Surprises  |  Seven Habits  |  Eight Attributes of Management Excellence  |  Five Disciplines  |  Ten Principles of Reinvention  |  Fourteen Points of Management  |  Charismatic Leadership  |  Theory of Needs

Return to Management Hub: Change & Organization  |  Communication & Skills  |  Human Resources  |   Leadership  |  Supply Chain & Quality

More Management Methods, Models and Theory

Sponsor this knowledge center

Special Interest Group Leader
Expert? Become our Theory X Theory Y SIG Leader.

All you need to know about management

12manage for:

Management Smart Card

12manage in:

The perfect souvenir for your education program

Copyright 2015 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V14.0 - Last updated: 1-4-2015. All names tm by their owners.