Read about two management styles:  Theory X and Theory Y at Net MBA Business Management Center.

In your own words, summarize the differences between Theory X and Theory Y.  Based on your own experience in organizations, provide an example of each style of management.  If you had a friend who practices the Theory X style of management, what advice would you give her or him?


Different strategies are utilized in our personal and professional lives to motivate us and other to perform the duties that are expected of. There are a range of theories that can be used as part of these strategies. For example Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one theory that can help us understand the needs of people and then motivate them by fulfilling these needs (McLeod, 2007). In the same way, Theory X and Theory Y come in a pair to understand how employs can be dealt with and why should they be dealt with in that way to get the most out of them. Both of these theories focus on the role management has to play towards the economic benefits of the organizations they work for by effectively managing the workforce (“Theory X and Theory Y”, 2010).

Theory X

Theory X is primarily based on the fulfilment of the lower need that were suggested by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These lower needs include physiological need primarily. These needs can be fulfilled by providing financial rewards. The employs may be motivated to work up to their capacity for a short term but a long term motivation may not be possible with the application of Theory X.


Theory X main assumptions are that employs are not internally motivated to work. It tries to motivate them with a carrot and stick approach. For example provide financial reward and punish if they don’t work to their full capacity.


The main source of motivation in Theory X is addressing the day to day needs of the employs. For example providing them bonuses that they can use to address their physiological needs like food and taking rest etc.

In practice

Theory X is used in many organization. In these organizations, employs are either treated with a hard approach of the theory i.e. strict punishments, round the clock supervision and tight control. An organizational culture is developed in which the employs are controlled with the help of a central command and control system. In the soft approach, the command is loosen and a harmony is sought in the expectation that the employs would fully cooperate.


Theory X is criticized for its two hard and soft extremes and the assumption that the work force is not willing to work and they need to be manipulated with different techniques to enforce an environment where they are compelled to work. The assumptions are not realistic. Instead a middle way must be found to let the employs work effectively.

Theory Y

Theory Y addressed the higher needs of the employs that are stated by Maslow’s theory of hierarchy. The primary goal is to address the self-actualization of the employs. This is an approach that would try to motivate the employs from within by trusting them and enabling them to reach their full capacity.


Theory Y assumes that work is just as fun as you would like to have rest or play. The employs need to be motivated in such a way that they are committed to perform their duties and self-directed instead of forced to perform their duties. Reward system should focus on the higher needs instead of the lower needs. The primary focus is to make people take responsibility of their actions and seek self-improvement.


Theory Y states that people have inbuilt motivation to reach a stage of self-actualization. Organization can develop an organizational culture in which the employs can make improvements to their capabilities and feel recognized. Employs cannot be manipulated to work hard, instead they should be made to believe that they are the best and they are an integral part of the organization and have to play an important role in the achievement of the organizational goals.


Theory Y focuses on providing an environment to the employs where they can reach their full capacity. What it ignores are the individual differences that may exist between different employs. The question is then what kind of an optimal environment would address the higher order of needs of all the employs. This would be hard to achieve keeping in mind the individual differences and motivational needs.


I would like to conclude my discussion here that organization should focus on the application of Theory Y instead of Theory X. Since long, workers are forced to work in dismal situations without a care for their needs and wished. The new world had changed in the positive direction and there is a need to decentralized organization and practice participative management which are both possible with Theory Y (Pugh & Pugh, 1984).




McLeod, S. (2007). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Available from interne t: html.

Pugh, D. S., & Pugh, D. S. (Eds.). (1984). Organization theory: Selected readings. Harmond-       sworth: Penguin books.

Theory X and Theory Y. (2010). Retrieved 19 January 2019, from