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What the Heck is Theory Z?

We’ve all heard of Theory X and Theory Y and will discuss these theories in later posts.   But back to Theory Z…

Theory Z is the lesser known of the human motivational theories and is viewed somewhat differently by each of the three theorists best known for their work in motivational theory.

Abraham Maslow, in his paper Theory Z, subscribes to the philosophy that all good qualities in man are inherent at birth and remain there until they are gradually lost through “living life”.  Maslow’s teachings espouse his belief that work adds meaning and significance to one’s life.  (Can I get an “Amen”?!)

W. J. Reddin’s view on Theory Z says, “Man has a will.  He is disposed toward good and evil.  Situation guides man.  Reason motivates him.  Interdependence is man’s primary mode of discourse.  Interaction is man’s social unit of importance. “Objective” best and succinctly describes man’s concept of man.”

Dr. William Ouchi, of Japanese Management Style fame, based his beliefs about Theory Z on Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s popular management theories.  Ouchi subscribed to Theory Z by keeping the focus on increasing employee loyalty to the company by providing a job for life with, the focus being placed on the well being of the employee- both at work and at home.  According to Ouchi, Theory Z management tends to promote stable employment, high productivity, as well as high employee morale and job satisfaction.  Sounds like what we need right now…

In summary, Theory Z is a management approach that combines American and Japanese philosophies, also referred to as Type A and Type J, respectively.  Supporters of Theory Z cite these benefits:

  • Consensual decision-making
  • Individual responsibility inside a larger group context
  • Improved organizational performance
  • Humanistic approach to management
  • Higher employee satisfaction, motivation, and commitment

In later posts we will look at the more common motivational theories of Theory X and Theory Y.

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Judy W Bell

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