Theory X

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Theory X and Theory Y are theories of human nature with their implications for organization and management theory. McGregor developed these theories as part of his work to ""substantiate the thesis that the human side of enterprise is 'all of a piece' -- that the theoretical assumptions management holds about controlling its human resources determine the whole character of the enterprise."" (McGregor, (1960), The Human Side of Enterprise, pp vi, vii).

McGregor termed Theory X ""the assumption of the mediocrity of the masses."" Its premises are ""(1) that the average human has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if he can, (2) that people, therefore, need to be coerced, controlled, directed, and threatened with punishment to get them to put forward adequate effort toward the organization's ends and (3) that the typical human prefers to be directed, wants to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition, and wants security above all."" McGregor argued that Theory X is not a straw man, ""but is in fact a theory which materially influences managerial strategy in a wide sector of American industry."" (Peters and Waterman, 1982, p 95).