Douglas McGregor

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Douglas Murray McGregor (1906 – 1 October 1964) was a management professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and president of Antioch College from 1948 to 1954.[1] He also taught at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. His 1960 book The Human Side of Enterprise had a profound influence on education practices.

Douglas McGregor is a contemporary of Abraham Maslow. Likewise, he also contributed much to the development of the management and motivational theory. He is best known for his Theory X and Theory Y as presented in his book ‘The Human Side of Enterprise’ (1960), which proposed that manager's individual assumptions about human nature and behaviour determined how individual manages their employees.[2]


McGregor was born in Detroit. He earned a B.E. (Mechanical) from Rangoon Institute of Technology, a B. A. from Wayne State University in 1932, then earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 1933 and 1935 respectively.[3]

The Human Side of Enterprise[edit]

In the book The Human Side of Enterprise, McGregor identified an approach of creating an environment within which employees are motivated via authoritative direction and control or integration and self-control, which he called theory X and theory Y,[4] respectively. Theory Y is the practical application of Dr. Abraham Maslow's Humanistic School of Psychology, or Third Force psychology, applied to scientific management.[citation needed]

He is commonly thought of as being a proponent of Theory Y, but, as Edgar Schein tells in his introduction to McGregor's subsequent, posthumous (1967), book The Professional Manager : "In my own contacts with Doug, I often found him to be discouraged by the degree to which theory Y had become as monolithic a set of principles as those of Theory X, the over-generalization which Doug was fighting....Yet few readers were willing to acknowledge that the content of Doug's book made such a neutral point or that Doug's own presentation of his point of view was that coldly scientific".[citation needed]

Graham Cleverley in Managers & Magic (Longman's, 1971) comments: "...he coined the two terms Theory X and theory Y and used them to label two sets of beliefs a manager might hold about the origins of human behaviour. He pointed out that the manager's own behaviour would be largely determined by the particular beliefs that he subscribed to....McGregor hoped that his book would lead managers to investigate the two sets of beliefs, invent others, test out the assumptions underlying them, and develop managerial strategies that made sense in terms of those tested views of reality. "But that isn't what happened. Instead McGregor was interpreted as advocating Theory Y as a new and superior ethic - a set of moral values that ought to replace the values managers usually accept."[citation needed]

The Human Side of Enterprise was voted the fourth most influential management book of the 20th century in a poll of the Fellows of the Academy of Management.[5]


McGregor died, age 58, in Massachusetts. In 1964, the School of Adult and Experiential Learning at Antioch College was renamed the "McGregor School" in his honor. It was later renamed "Antioch University McGregor" and then "Antioch University Midwest."[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Presidents of Antioch". Antioch University. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  2. ^ Jeong Chun Hai @Ibrahim, & Nor Fadzlina Nawi. (2012). Principles of Public Administration: Malaysian Perspectives. Kuala Lumpur: Pearson Publishers. ISBN 978-967-349-233-6
  3. ^ "Douglas McGregor". Antioch University. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007.
  4. ^ "The MIT 150: 150 Ideas, Inventions, and Innovators that Helped Shape Our World". The Boston Globe. 15 May 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  5. ^ Bedeian, Arthur G.; Wren, Daniel A. (Winter 2001). "Most Influential Management Books of the 20th Century" (PDF). Organizational Dynamics. 29 (3): 221–225. doi:10.1016/S0090-2616(01)00022-5.

External links[edit]