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. 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.
McGregor was born in Detroit. He earned a B.E. (Mechanical) from Rangoon Institute of Technology, an 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.
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, respectively. Theory Y is the practical application of Dr. Abraham Maslow's Humanistic School of Psychology, or Third Force psychology, applied to scientific management.
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".
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."
McGregor died, age 58, in Massachusetts. In 1994, 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."