Goal-Setting Theory
Goal-Setting Theory

Goal-Setting Theory

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  • Pages: 5 (2408 words)
  • Published: October 28, 2017
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Goal-setting Theory and its Effective Application According to the book Organisational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim (2007), motivation is the “forces within a person that affect his or her direction, intensity and persistence of voluntary behaviour in the workplace”. This means that compared to a non-motivated employee, a motivated one is willing to consistently (persistence) give more effort to their job (intensity) to achieve the desired goal or goals (direction).Today, motivating employees is important and has become more challenging for employers due to the fact that an engaged workforce result in greater performance, productivity and success for the business. This is why many managers want to find ways on how to motivate their subordinates so that the employees are willing to contribute to the firm with full potential as it will affect the corporate performance. In order to motivate subordinates effectively, managers need to have a better understanding of motivation which is why there are numerous theories that try to explain the term.

Motivation theories can be grouped into two types, the “Need Theories” and the cognitive psychology evaluation theories. The “Need Theories” are the “Hierarchy of Needs Theory”, the “Theory X and Theory Y”, the “Two-Factor Theory”, the “Four-Drive Theory” and lastly the “ERG Theory”. Whereas for the cognitive evaluation, there are the “Job-Design Theory”, the “Reinforcement Theory”, the “Expectancy Theory”, the “Equity Theory and finally the “Goal-setting Theory suggested by E.A Locke, which will be discuss in detail in this essay because this theory has become the most effective and widely used motivational tool that has been supported with many years of empirical research (Barsky 2008).<

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In 2003, Goal-setting is rated by organizational behaviour scholars as number one in importance among other seventy three management theories (Smith and Hitt. 2005). Goal-setting theory (Locke & Latham. 2002) was build inductively over a 35- year period in the industrial and organizational psychology based on 400 laboratory and field studies.This theory is based on Ryan’s thesis in 1970 where conscious goals affect action (Locke and Latham. 2002) therefore Locke and Latham began investigating about the possible impact of goals on individual performance. This theory has high level of validity and it is effective for individuals, groups and organizations (Locke and Latham. 2006). According to Locke (1978) this theory is “recognized explicitly or implicitly by virtually every major theory of work motivation”. Scientific Management” and “Management by Objectives” (MBO) theories has absolutely recognized the significance of goal-setting in theory and practice.

At first, goal-setting was denied in “Valence- Instrumentality- Expectancy” (VIE) and “Human Relations” theories but was later acknowledged. Lastly, goal-setting theory has been persistently refused in “Organizational Behaviour Modification” (OB Mod) and “Job Enrichment” theories because they do not agree with it theoretically but has implicitly acknowledge it in practice. (Locke. 978) Based on many meta-analyses of goal setting research, researchers such as Mento, Steel and Karren (1987), Tubbs (1986) and Locke, Shaw, Saari and Latham (1981) came to an agreement that difficult to achieve, specific and challenging goals improves performance rather than easy or unclear goals such as “do your best”.

For example, an employee will feel more challenged and put in more effort when

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his manager requires him to sell 100units of computers in one month rather than having his boss only urging him to do his best.Based on other relevant literature about goal setting, McShane and Travaglione (2007) defined goal setting as the “process of motivating employees and clarifying their role perceptions by establishing performance objectives”. Similarly to Locke and Latham’s goal-setting theory, for both McShane and Travaglione goal setting has the potential to enhance and refine employee performance in two ways. They are by “stretching the intensity and persistence of effort” and by giving clear and not vague role perceptions to employees so that the effort is “channeled towards behaviours that will improve work performance” (McShane and Travaglione. 007) As stated by Locke and Latha, there are four mediators or mechanisms of goals that can affect performance.

The first one is that there is “focus of attention on the desired end state to the exclusion of other goals” (Smith and Hitt. 2005). This means that goals can limit and direct employee’s attention, effort and action to only goal-relevant activities and not interrupted by unwanted and irrelevant ones. For instance, if one’s goal is to get a high distinction grade in Mathematics, one will focus and dedicate all his or her effort and attention to studying math and not play the Playstation.

One will think twice to play and not concentrate on studies. The second mediator is the investment of effort and energy in goal-relevant activities (Locke and Latham 2002). High and difficult goals lead to more effort than easy or vague ones. For example, if one has a goal of finishing an essay in 2 days time, he or she is likely to put more effort by working harder and faster in order to finish the essay before the due date. Next, without skills and task knowledge, a goal cannot be achieved because performance needs both motivation and ability (Locke and Latham 2006).One cannot achieve a desired goal unless one has the ability and knowledge of it.

In 1990, Wood and Locke suggest that goals affect action indirectly by motivating the person to discover and use task-relevant knowledge (Locke and Latham. 2002). Whereas according to Latham and Locke (2006), goals may motivate a person to use his or her existing ability, may motivate people to acquire new knowledge especially when they are confronted with new tasks and may naturally “pull stored task-relevant knowledge into awareness”.The fourth and last mediator is the “persistence of effort through time until the goal is attained” even though there are obstacles (Smith and Hitt. 2005). Goals affect and influence persistence.

According to LaPorte and Nath, hard goals stretches effort when people are allowed to control their time spent on tasks (Locke and Latham. 2002). For instance, tight deadlines results to a more rapid work pace than loose ones. According to Latham and Locke (2006), there are 4 key moderators to ensure the effectiveness of goal-setting theory.The first moderator is feedback. McShane and Travaglione (2007) define feedback as “any information that people receive about the consequences of their behaviour”.

People need feedback to track their progress because they need to know how they

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