Learn about Theory X and Theory Y, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors in Chapter 2 Work and Motivation from Business Course by English Plus Podcast.

As well as setting and communicating objectives, developing strategies and allocating resources, manager have to motivate the staff who report to them. These will often include people with interesting, responsible and fulfilling jobs, as well as others with less interesting and highly repetitive tasks.

In this chapter, we will talk about different factors that might motivate workers in both types of job, and about whether it can be argued that people in general like or dislike working.

There will be reading, discussion questions, writing assignments and activities in which we will discuss and understand better some of the most important theories in this topic. We will talk about Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors and Motivators.

Audio Podcast

Discussion Time

Job Motivators

Job Motivators

Which of these motivators would is the most important for you in your choice of job?

[cma-questions cat=”ep607_1″]

Attitudes to Work

Which of the following statements do you agree with and why?

[cma-questions cat=”ep607_2″]

Reading: Theory X and Theory Y

In The Human side of Enterprise, Douglas McGregor outlined two opposing theories of work and motivation. What he calls Theory X is the rather pessimistic approach to workers and working which assumes that people are lazy and will avoid work and responsibility if they can. Consequently, workers have to be closely supervised and controlled, and told what to do. They have to be both threatened, for example with losing their job, and rewarded with incentives, probably monetary ones such as a pay rise or bonuses. Theory X assumes that most people are incapable of taking responsibility for themselves and have to be looked after. It has traditionally been applied, for example, by managers of factory workers in large-scale manufacturing.

Theory Y, on the contrary, assumes that most people have a psychological need for work, and given the right conditions — job security, financial rewards — they will be creative, ambitious and self-motivated by the satisfaction of doing a good job. Theory Y is probably more applicable to skilled professionals and what Peter Drucker called ‘knowledge workers’ — managers, specialists, engineers programmers, scientists — than people in unskilled jobs.

McGregor’s two theories are based on Abraham Maslow’s famous ‘hierarchy of needs’. Theory X relates to the basic, ‘lower order’ needs at the bottom of the hierarchy, such as financial security, while Theory Y relates to ‘higher order’ needs such as esteem (achievement, status and responsibility) and self-actualization (personal growth and fulfillment) that can be pursued if basic needs are satisfied.

McGregor is widely considered to have laid the foundations for the modern people-centered view of management. However, Maslow spent a year studying a Californian company that used Theory Y, and concluded that there are many people who are not looking for responsibility and achievement at work. There will always be people with little self-discipline, who need security and certainty and protection against the burden of responsibility, so it is impossible to simply replace the ‘authoritarian’ Theory X with the ‘progressive’ Theory Y.

Check your Understanding of Theory X and Theory Y

Decide whether these statements belong to Theory X or Theory Y.

People dislike work and avoid it if they can.

Work is necessary to people's psychological well-being.

People avoid responsiblity and would rather be told what to do.

People are motivated mainly by money.

Most people are far more creative than their employers realize.

People are motivated by fear of losing their job.

People want to be interested in their work and, given the right conditions, they will enjoy it.

Under the right conditions, most poeple will accept responsibility and will want to realize their own potential.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs


Read the text and answer these questions. (Please note that it is very difficult to get the exact same answer that I provided, so most probably, the computer will consider your answer wrong, but it is probably not. Just compare your answer with the sample answers I provided and check if you got the main idea I included in the sample answer.)

According to Theory X, why do employees have to be closely controlled?

According to Theory Y, why should employers give their workers responsibilities?

Why did Maslow criticize Theory Y?

Theory Z

There is also a Theory Z, which was proposed by another American management theorist, William Ouchi, in 1981, based on the dominant Japanese management style at the time. Japanese companies often guaranteed long-term (even lifelong) employment, and were concerned with the employees’ well-being; in return, workers could be expected to be loyal to the company, and to participate fully in decision making.

Working relationships tended to be cooperative, with managers able to have a lot of trust in their staff, who were offered continuous training, and so became generalists rather than specialists. Ouchi argued that Theory Z management led to stable employment, high productivity, and high staff morale and satisfaction. Given that American companies do not usually guarantee long-term employment, however, Theory Z has had a limited impact in the US.

Writing Assignment

Use your own words in this mini-writing assignment. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should reflect your understanding of Theory X and Theory Y.

Write a summary of Theories X and Y, using no more than 50 words for each.

Reading: ‘Satisfiers’ and ‘Motivators’

Another well-known theorist of the psychology of work, Frederick Herzberg, has argued that good working conditions are not sufficient to motivate people.

It is logical to suppose that things like good labor relations, good working conditions, job security, good wages, and benefits such as sick pay, paid holidays and a pension are incentives that motivate workers. But in The Motivation to work, Frederick Herzberg, argued that such conditions — or ‘hygiene factors’ — do not in fact motivate workers. They are merely ‘satisfiers’ — or, more importantly. ‘dissatisfiers’ where they do not exist. Workers who have them take them for granted. As Herzberg put it, “A reward once given becomes a right.’ ‘Motivators’, on the contrary, include things such as having a challenging and interesting job, recognition and responsibility, promotion and so on. Unless people are motivated, and want to do a good job, they will not perform well.

However, there are and always will be plenty of boring, repetitive and mechanical jobs, and lots of unskilled workers who have to do them. How can mangers motivate people in such jobs? One solution is to give them some responsibilities, not as individuals bu as part of a team. For example, some supermarkets combine office staff, the people who fill the shelves, and the people who work on the checkout tills into a team and let them decide what product lines to stock, how to display them, and so on. Other employers encourage job rotation, as doing four different repetitive jobs a day is better than doing only one. Many people now talk about the importance of a company’s shared valued or corporate culture, with which all the staff can identify: for example being the best hotel chain, or hamburger restaurant chain, or airline, or making the best, safest, most user-friendly, most ecological or most reliable products in a particular field.

Unfortunately, not all the competing companies in an industry can seriously claim to be the best.


Are these sentences true or false?

Herzberg argued that 'hygiene factors' motivate workers.

Challenging jobs and responsibility are hygiene factors.

Some unskilled jobs will always be boring and repetitive.

Workers might be motivated by having responsibilities as part of a team.

Job rotation can make a day's work more interesting.

You can always motivate workers by telling them that they work for the best company in the field.


Find the words in the text that mean the following.

interactions between emplyers and employees, or managers and workers.

knowing that there is little risk of losing one's employment.

money paid (per hor or day or week) to manual workers

advantages that come with a job, apart from pay

things that encourage people to do something

to be raised to a higher rank or better job

without any particular abilities acquired by training

regularly switching between different tasks

a company's shared attitudes, beliefs, practices and work relationships


[cma-questions cat=”ep607_3″]

Listening Practice

Listening 1

Listen to three MBA students at the Judge Business school talking about motivation, and answer the following questions.

Listen first then answer the questions then check the sample answers I have provided. (Don't worry if your answers are incorrect; computers are stupid and still cannot understand written answers properly 🙂

According to Krishna, what is the disadvantage of working in auditing compared to banking?

How did Krishna's company retain its staff?

According to Carlo, what is the main reason why people leave their jobs?

According to Carlo, does a company need a set of motivational incentives?

What does Carlo say a amanger needs to do to engage his/her team?

According to Saktiandi, do the staff have to do what the organization wants, or vice versa?

What does Saktiandi say about the importance of influencing and convincing people?


[cma-questions cat=”ep607_4″]

Listening 2

Listen to Janine George, another MBA student at Cambridge, talking about motivation, and answer the following questions.

Listen first then answer the questions then check the sample answers I have provided. (Don't worry if your answers are incorrect; computers are stupid and still cannot understand written answers properly 🙂

How long had some of Janine's operationa team been working in their jobs?

What kind of company is Janine talking about?

How long are the working days?

How did she find the workers when she arrived at the company?

What did she do to rectify the situation?

What did she find out at the meetings?

What examples does she give of out-of-work activities that the company was able to draw on to motivate staff?

What was the lesson of this experience for Janine?

Janine talks about activities that are not 'related to the bottom line'. What does this mean?

Janine says managers should 'think outside the box'. What does she mean by this and why do you think she apologizes for using this expression?

Case Study

The case study will be added soon. Please check back later. Thank You!



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<a href="" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan


Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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