Goal - Setting Theory -Motivation Theory

  1. In the late 1960s, Edwin Locke proposed that intentions to work toward a goal are a major source of work motivation.

  2. Goals tell an employee what needs to be done and how much effort is needed. The evidence strongly supports the value of goals.

  3. Specific hard goals produce a higher level of output than do the generalized goals.

  4. If factors like ability and acceptance of the goals are held constant, we can also state that the more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.

  5. People will do better when they get feedback on how well they are progressing toward their goals. Self-generated feedback is more powerful a motivator than externally generated feedback.

  6. The evidence is mixed regarding the superiority of participative over assigned goals. If employees have the opportunity to participate in the setting of their own goals, will they try harder?

  • A major advantage of participation may be in increasing acceptance.

  • If people participate in goal setting, they are more likely to accept even a difficult goal than if they are arbitrarily assigned it by their boss.


7. There are contingencies in goal-setting theory. In addition to feedback, four other factors

influence the goals-performance relationship.

  • Goal commitment: Goal-setting theory presupposes that an individual is committed to the goal.

  • Adequate self-efficacy: Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief that he or she is capable of performing a task. The higher your self-efficacy, the more confidence you have in your ability to succeed in a task.

  • Task characteristics: Individual goal setting does not work equally well on all tasks. Goals seem to have a more substantial effect on performance when tasks are simple, well-learned, and independent.

  • National culture: Goal-setting theory is culture bound and it is well adapted to North American cultures.


8. Intentions, as articulated in terms of hard and specific goals, are a potent motivating force. However, there is no evidence that such goals are associated with increased job satisfaction.

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