Douglas McGregor

Douglas McGregor was, according to several analysts, the author published the most complete book about human motivations. Two of his most important books are “Motivation and Personality” and “The Human Side of Enterprise”, published in 1954 and 1960, respectively.

In his theory, McGregor identified two sets of conflictive assumptions that are made to the employees, whose serve as base to any theory of how to deal with people inside an organization:

  • X Theory: Organizations start from the assumption that people have disgust for work and responsibility, preferring to be driven and, for that should be controlled and motivated by coercion, punishment, money or compliments. These assumptions correspond to the employees’ mechanistic conception used by the Classic School and lead the organizations to place an emphasis in the satisfaction of the hygienic factor defined by Herzberg.
  • Y Theory: It starts with the hypothesis that people are creative and competent and consider that work is as natural as entertainment or rest. So, under correct conditions (as being justice of what they receive in exchange for what they offer the organization) they wish to work, therefore it’s fundamental to provide conditions for their personal development, being, to place the emphasis in Herzberg motivational factors.

These assumptions form the base of the called Participative Administration.

Regarding the facts that affect motivation, McGregor established a distinction between what he denominated of “extrinsic factors” and “intrinsic factors”:

  • Extrinsic factors: They are associated to Maslow’s inferior needs satisfaction and Herzberg hygiene factors, and can be controlled from “outside” of the individual through, for example, compensations, incentives, punishments or hardships. According to McGregor, management theories based on X Theory confine to satisfy this kind of needs.
  • Intrinsic factors: They are associated to Maslow’s superior needs satisfaction and Herzberg motivational factors, and are property of the human system itself: are only satisfied as a result of its own effort and are inherent to the activity’s development, So, leaders should, not only motivate through external stimulation (or incentives), but also create conditions so that each employee motivates himself by the intrinsic results of the actions developed by him.
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