- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Irwin; 1 edition (August 1, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0070450986
- ISBN-13: 978-0070450981
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,844,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Human Side of Enterprise: 25th Anniversary Printing 1st Edition
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The Human Side of Enterprise consists of 3 parts and is in total about 250 pages. I found it a well-written and easy to read book. The first part introduces the concepts of Theory X and Theory Y. Both of these are assumptions of human nature that lie behind certain management practices. The Theory X approach (as exemplified by "scientific management") believes the nature of humans is to be lazy and management needs to do whatever they can to extract effort out of the lazy humans. Theory Y basically assumes that people want to spend effort on work, like on play, and that we need to build environments that truly satisfy basic human needs of self-actualization. Theory Y management practices tend to be very participatory where everyone is involved in deciding how to work.
Part two explains how Theory Y assumptions would impact and dramatically change the way organizations work. McGregor covers many parts of organizations from a wonderful analysis of performance reviews to the responsibilities of managers and staff organizations. I especially enjoyed his analyze of performance reviews as it seems to way ahead of its time as even today that subject seems nearly taboo in most organizations.
Part three felt a little bit out of scope compared with the rest. It focused purely on development of management functions within organizations. He does still use Theory Y assumptions to dissect talent programs, but this part had less to do with the assumptions of human nature than the previous parts. It did provide an insight in development management and leadership that is, unfortunately, still relevant now.
I was surprised by the freshness of all the writings of McGregor. I enjoy reading older books but often have to re-interpret that they describe in a modern day setting. The Human Side of Enterprise is different as it could have been written yesterday (except for the somewhat old-fashioned language). I wish this book was obsolete and that the world has moved more to Theory Y management assumptions, but unfortunately much Theory X practices still rule the workplace, especially in larger corporations. Therefore, I strongly recommend to read The Human Side of Enterprise even today. This book was truly excellent.
Some authors never go out of style. By the way, McGregor makes it quite clear that under most circumstances, in most situations, and with most people the appropriate approach is "theory X." McGregor fully admits that the application of "theory Y" won't work except with certain people and under certain conditions. Applying "theory Y" in the wrong situations to inappropriate people is an all too common SNAFU. Though applying "theory X" in the wrong situations to inappropriate people is also a SNAFU, it is apparently rare.
This last paragraph was just FYI. In case a reader happens to be some kind of spiritually and socially abused polymath.
I have a confession to make. The second part of this book ("Theory Y in Practice." Chapters 5 thru 12.) was very hard for me to read. This difficulty was partially because in order to really gain some understanding of it, it forced me to judge myself. But this was more importantly because all the examples of Theory Y in Practice that McGregor himslef could find indicate that its application has limits and it requires discipline. To this reader, the limits and this discipline of Theory Y in practice appear far greater than that required by Theory X in order to be successful. For example, successful unschooling would require more discipline and commitment on the student's part than traditional public, private, or even homeschooling.
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