Last week, in Week 2, we discussed the ideas of Classical Theorists in our reading in the Shafritz & Hyde (2011) textbook. Shafritz & Hyde (2011)
present the ideas of many disparate Classical Theorists in the area of public administration including the subareas of leadership, human motivation
and work, management, administration, and organization. Each of the theorists ranging from Taylor, who expounded upon Scientific Management, to
McGregor who presents the paradigm shifting theory of Theory Y Theory X is important to understand in term of gaining knowledge and comprehension of
the evolution of organizational behavior and theory in the rich literature that makes up the body of knowledge in the multidisciplinary applied field
of research and practice that is the study and practice of Public Administration.
This week, in Week 3, think of the theories of Scientific Management and Theory Y Theory X as they specifically apply to human motivation in the
workplace. Ontology is the view of reality. The axiomatic ontological starting point of Scientific Management is one of the notion of human beings
being inherently lazy and therefore indeed in need of micromanagement to tell the employee how to get the job done the one best right way.
Conversely, the ontology of Theory Y Theory X is the exact opposite where humans are seen as inherently motivated and capable to achieve
organizational goals with out micromanagement regarding a one best way solution.
General Sherman, perhaps the most laudable General in the American Civil War, certainly applied the Theory Y Theory X as Sherman knew the ontology of
his frontiersmen Union soldier conscripts well (Green, 2007). Sherman knew that his frontiersmen conscripts had disdain for hierarchy, draconian
rules, and had a general distrust of authority in general. Instead of forcing discipline, through punishment, to ensure conformity to normal army
standards Sherman loosened the rules on battle dress uniforms, made few rules, and empowered the frontiersmen soldiers with participator leadership
in terms of letting those soldiers get the job done for him ensuring his overall strategy was seen through to the end. The strategy was Sherman’s.
What did it even matter if the soldiers to created the tactics as long as the job was accomplished? This worked well. In fact, Napoleon did the exact
same thing as he too understood the ontology of his soldiers.
Understanding the ontology of the team members should drive the decision to determine what theoretical starting point drives the overall strategy of
your organizational motivational culture.
Greene, R. (2007). The 33 Strategies of War (Reprint.). Penguin Books.
Shafritz, J. M., & Hyde, A. C. (2011). Classics of Public Administration (7th ed.). Wadsworth Publish
What key lessons do we learn this week about motivation in the public sector? About expectations?