Douglas McGregor created two distinct theories of management and motivation in 1960, known as Theory X and Theory Y.

McGregor presented these two opposing views of motivation based on a manager's perspective of the actions of his employees

Theory X

Theory X assumes that workers are naturally lazy, and resistant to work. 

It believes that employees dislike work, and attempt to avoid work completely.

So, they require close supervision and control to achieve their goals.

Theory X believes that rewards and punishment are necessary to motivate workers.

It also believes that workers are not interested in taking on additional responsibilities or challenges.

Assumptions of the Theory X

1. Workers despise work and will do everything in their power to avoid it.

2. Because workers don't like work, they must be coerced, persuaded, or threatened with punishment to get them to work.

3. Workers dislike responsibilities.

4. Since workers dislike responsibility, managers must adopt a more dictatorial management style.

5. Workers need formal direction and managers must closely supervise workers.

Theory Y

Theory Y assumes that employees are naturally motivated to work and are capable of taking on additional responsibilities and challenges.

It also believes that employees are more likely to be motivated to work when they are given the freedom to name their own decisions and allowed to apply their skills and abilities.

According to Theory Y, employees' dedication to achieving organizational goals depends on the rewards and fulfillment they get from their work.

Assumptions of the Theory Y 

1. The physical and mental effort employees put forth at work is as natural as when they play or rest.

Stated differently, workers can perform their job normally and relax

2. Workers do not always need to be forced to work or threatened with punishment before they work.

3. Workers are capable of exercising self-direction and control to accomplish objectives to which they are committed.

4. The rewards and job satisfaction that employees get to affect their commitment to the objectives of the organization.

5. Workers learn to accept and admit responsibility.

6. Workers can use imagination and creative thinking to solve organizational problems.


Theory X provides a pessimistic view of the work nature and behavior of workers in that it provides a negative view of workers.

Theory Y, on the other hand, provides an optimistic view of the work nature and behavior of workers in that it provides a positive view of workers.

When compared with Maslow's hierarchy of requirements, theory X is based on the idea that employees prioritize physiological and safety needs, while theory Y is based on the idea that employees prioritize social, esteem, and self-actualization needs.