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How does Theory Z differ from both Theory X and Theory Y, and when is it appropriate to implement each?

Since the earliest days of industrial production, management and labor have held different views on employee motivation. Theory X, Y, and Z are some of several theories that seek to analyze how employee motivation is affected by the attitudes of management. The purpose for the analysis is to understand the impact of motivation on productivity.

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As globalization has shifted the traditional manufacturing and product chains, so have management theory. Theory X and Theory Y were some of a spate of employee motivation and management theories that came from an earlier age, when manufacturing in the United States was at its peak. Postulated by Douglas McGregor in the 1950s and promoted in a book written by him in the 1960s, Theories X and Y were aimed at addressing how the managers's attitudes relate to employee motivation and productivity.

Current research indicates employee motivation is a function of several different factors, as younger workers have very different drivers than their parents and grandparents. Theory Z may be more applicable to the modern workforce. Automation has taken over many jobs previously done by manual labor. The workforce is much more likely to be transient, moving from company to company in search of better work-life balance. These two factors are opposite of the workforce in the 1950s and 1960s, where...

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