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Journal cover: Management Decision

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747
Incorporates: Journal of Management History (Archive)

Online from: 1967

Subject Area: Management Science/Management Studies

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Theory X/Y assumptions as predictors of managers' propensity for participative decision making

Document Information:
Title:Theory X/Y assumptions as predictors of managers' propensity for participative decision making
Author(s):Travis L. Russ, (School of Business Administration, Fordham University, New York, New York, USA)
Citation:Travis L. Russ, (2011) "Theory X/Y assumptions as predictors of managers' propensity for participative decision making", Management Decision, Vol. 49 Iss: 5, pp.823 - 836
Keywords:Decision making, Employee participation, Managers, United States of America
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/00251741111130887 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – This study aims to explore whether McGregor's theory X/Y assumptions are determinants of managers' propensity for participative decision making (PDM).

Design/methodology/approach – Surveys measuring theory X/Y assumptions and propensity for PDM were administered to 144 full-time managers from divergent industries across the USA. The hypotheses were tested using linear regressions.

Findings – Results generally support McGregor's assertion that managers' theory X/Y assumptions are linked to PDM. Findings suggest that theory X managers perceive that PDM negatively impacts their power while theory Y managers perceive a positive consequence of soliciting employee participation on their supervisory power and organizational effectiveness.

Research limitations/implications – Although respondents represented diverse industries and organizations, the use of convenience sampling may temper generalizability of the findings. Also, the use of self-reports may have elicited socially desirable responses. Greater attention is needed from researchers and practitioners to understand how managers' assumptions influence the adoption or avoidance of PDM.

Practical implications – Findings suggest that managers' predisposition for PDM is predicted to a large extent by their theory X/Y assumptions. These results provide a compelling case for managers to continuously question their assumptions about employees and critically examine whether their biases influence their decision-making practices.

Originality/value – This study expands the landscape of PDM literature, adding further evidence that individual-difference variables, in this case theory X/Y assumptions, greatly influence supervisors' biases about employee participation.

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