The impact of externally set goals on motivation and performance in the sales force


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The impact of externally set goals on motivation and performance in the sales force
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viii, 198 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Chowdhury, Jhinuk, 1956-
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Goal setting in personnel management   ( lcsh )
Selling -- Psychological aspects   ( lcsh )
Marketing thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Marketing -- UF
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1990.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 185-197).
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Statement of Responsibility:
Jhinuk Chowdhury.

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Table of Contents
    Title Page
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    Table of Contents
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    Chapter 1. Introduction
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    Chapter 2. Review of literature
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    Chapter 3. The conceptual model
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    Chapter 4. Methodology
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    Chapter 5. Analyses and results
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    Chapter 6. Conclusions
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    Appendix A. Items in the self-efficacy scale
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    Appendix B. Items in Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale
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    Appendix C. Intercorrelations of SOC scales with other scales
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    Appendix D. Instruments used for intervening measures
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    Appendix E. Algorithm used for computing client’s offers in negotiations
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    Appendix F. Statistics associated with self-efficacy scores
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    Appendix G. Messages used by the computer program
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text





199,0 EF F ~

Dedicated to my parents, Kumkum and Bhabatosh Sen Chowdhury, who have

been my first educators and much, much more . .


I gratefully acknowledge the inspiring guidance provided to me by Professors Barton A. Weitz and John G. Lynch, Jr. The process of being advised on my dissertation was one of the most rewarding experiences I have encountered. I am thankful that I had been fortunate enough to be able to work under the guidance of Bart. During the course of my dissertation, he not only taught me many things that relate to good research but also enriched me with knowledge that, I hope, will help me be a better person.

Throughout the course of my entire doctoral program and beyond, my wife, Mona, has been a tremendous source of strength and support for me. For me, it is impossible to even visualize myself going through the entire course without her being there. I do not have words in my vocabulary that can do justice to the deep feeling of appreciation I feel toward her.

Finally, I am thankful to my parents, Kumkum and Bhabatosh Sen Chowdhury, for providing me with the all their love and support which have given me the strength to pursue all that I have done, the vision to recognize the worth of my choices, and for instilling in me a sense of pride in everything that I do.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................................... iii

ABSTRACT ............................................................. vii


1 INTRODUCTION ................................................ 1

overview .................................................... 1
The Goal Setting Phenomenon ................................. 3
objectives .................................................. 5
Theoretical Perspectives .................................... 6
Summary ..................................................... 8

2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ........................................ 10

overview .................................................... 10
Goal Setting Research ....................................... 11
Locke's Goal Setting Theory ......................... 11
Contributions of Locke's Theory--The Role of
Conscious Intentions ............................. 12
The Concept of the Goal--External vs Internal ....... 13 Implications ........................................ 15
Expectancy Theory ........................................... 16
Background .......................................... 16
The Expectancy-Value Model .......................... 17
The Expectancy Construct ............................ 18
Antecedents of Expectancy ........................... 22
Implications for Goal Setting ....................... 25
Achievement Motivation ...................................... 27
Background .......................................... 27
"Motive" and "Motivation" ........................... 27
The Principle of Achievement Motivation ............. 28
Implications ........................................ 30
The Competitive Outlook ..................................... 31
Self-Efficacy ............................................... 39
Background .......................................... 39
The Construct ....................................... 41
Self-Efficacy and Expectancy--Theoretical Issues .... 45 Self-Efficacy and Expectancy--Measurement Issues .... 49 Self-Efficacy and Self-Esteem ....................... 52


3 THE CONCEPTUAL MODEL ........................................ 53

Objectives of the Model ..................................... 54
Scheme Adopted for Describing the Conceptual model .......... 55 The Extended Compliance Path ................................ 56
Overview of the Path ................................ 56
Cognitive Representation of Goal .................... 57
Effect on Intention--The Compliance Mechanism ....... 59 Effect of Intention on Performance .................. 62
Moderating Influences on the Extended Compliance Path ....... 63
Effect of Goal Specificity .......................... 64
Effect of Extrinsic Rewards ......................... 67
Effect of Expectancy ................................ 72
External Goal Level and Perceived Extrinsic Rewards ......... 74
Types of Contingent Compensation Plans .............. 75
External Goal and Intangible Extrinsic Rewards ...... 78 Moderating Influences on Intangible Rewards ......... 80
The Goal-Expectancy Pathway ................................. 81
Nature of the Goal-Expectancy Relationship .......... 85
The Moderating Effect of Self-Efficacy ...................... 90
The Intrinsic Motivation Pathway ............................ 92
The Concept of Intrinsic Rewards .................... 92
The Rationale for Externally Administered
Rewards .......................................... 93
Limitations of the Expected Utility viewpoint ....... 95
Relation Between External Goal and Intrinsic
Rewards .......................................... 96
Effect of Intrinsic Rewards on Performance .......... 98
The Composite Effect of Self-Efficacy ....................... 100
The Static Model--Summary and Implications .................. 101
Dynamic Aspects of Goal Setting ............................. 103
Proximal and Distal Goals ........................... 103
Dual Effects of Proximal Goals ...................... 106
Implications ........................................ 108

4 METHODOLOGY ................................................. 110

The Experimental Paradigm ................................... 113
The Task Setting .................................... 113
Advantages of a Microcomputer Based Experimental
Methodology ...................................... 113
The Self-Efficacy Scale for Negotiation Tasks ............... 118
The Study ................................................... 122
Objective ........................................... 122
Subjects ............................................ 122
Experimental Design ................................. 122
Experimental Hypotheses ............................. 124
Procedure ........................................... 127
Summary ............................................. 142


5 ANALYSES AND RESULTS ........................................ 143

Analyses of the Self-Efficacy Measure ....................... 143
Stability of Self-Efficacy .......................... 143
Effects of Self-Efficacy ............................ 146
Tests of Hypotheses ......................................... 148
Performance Levels .................................. 148
Expectancy of Task Success .......................... 156
Intention to Perform and Intrinsic Rewards .......... 159
The Inverted-U Relationship Between Goal and
Effort Expended .................................. 161

6 CONCLUSIONS ................................................. 163

Implications of Observed Results ............................ 163
Future Research Directions .................................. 165


A ITEMS IN THE SELF-EFFICACY SCALE ............................ 168

B ITEMS IN ROSENBERG'S SELF-ESTEEM SCALE ...................... 170



NEGOTIATIONS .................................... 175


G MESSAGES USED BY THE COMPUTER PROGRAM ....................... 180

BIBLIOGRAPHY ......................................................... 185

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................................. 198


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Jhinuk Chowdhury

August 1990

Chairman: Professor Barton A. Weitz Major Department: Marketing

An important characteristic of the sales management context is the widespread use of and importance attached to sales quotas. The levels of sales quotas assigned to salespeople are believed to affect their work motivation and actual performance levels. Sales managers, however, have little or no recourse to theory-based guidelines that may help them in choosing an optimum sales quota in a given situation.

In the course of addressing issues related to the setting of

optimal levels of performance targets or goals, this dissertation adopts an eclectic perspective and introduces multiple viewpoints in researching phenomena related to motivation in the sales force. Additionally, it proposes an integrating conceptual framework that is used to resolve the seemingly contradictory positions of different research traditions in related disciplines. The conceptual model proposed in the dissertation describes the effects of goal setting in terms of intervening


cognitive and motivational constructs and identifies the relevant interrelationships in order to account for the phenomena associated with goal setting.

In order to validate some of the key propositions that are generated from the conceptual model, an experimental study was conducted. The task situation chosen for the study included negotiation sessions in which the experimental subjects assumed the role of salespeople and participated in bargaining activities with a microcomputer that assumed the roles of purchase representatives. A computer program was specifically written for this purpose. The dissertation describes in detail the methods used for the experimental study and the results of the data analyses.

The results indicate that for every individual, performance in

sales related tasks improves when the level of difficulty of the goal is increased till a certain point. Thereafter, further increases in the level of goal difficulty do not improve performance. The results also indicate that for low levels of goal difficulty, most individuals perform equally. However, when the goals are made increasingly difficult, individuals with higher levels of self-efficacy outperform those who are low in self-efficacy.





Within the context of sales management, the practice of setting of sales quotas, in one form or another, has been and continues to be pervasive. The use of quotas in sales situations is estimated to have been used as early as 1888 (Phelps and Westing 1968, p. 739). In a survey conducted well over half a century ago, Griffin (1928) found that a majority of the larger manufacturers in the US used some kind of sales quota plan.

With the introduction of the concept of Management by Objectives (Drucker 1954; McGregor 1954), interest in the setting of goals or quotas was extended beyond the sales force to become a major aspect of the organizations' overall development According to Futrell, the concept of Management by Objectives (or MBO) has received "considerable attention in management literature and has been characterized as the most pervasive idea in management in the last quarter century" (1981, p. 134). However, Futrell (1981) also points out that the idea of MBO

10diorne (1978) provides a review of literature devoted to issues concerning Management by Objectives.



has been interpreted in ways that are markedly different from each other and different components of the overall MBO concept have been emphasized by the different advocates of the idea. Consequently, in spite of the inspiration it has provided and the enthusiasm generated, the concept remains amorphous with regard to its capability to generate concrete researchable propositions. Steers and Porter (1974) indicate that books written on goal setting or quota setting within the purview of MBO are numerous, but they typically possess the distinct characteristic of "how-to-do-it" manuals that are based on anecdotal wisdom and lack formalized theory testing procedures.

Modern textbooks on sales and marketing management almost

unanimously emphasize the significance of quotas in sales situations. Sales quotas are used for several purposes, among which the most important include forecasting, establishing standards of evaluation, and motivating salespeople (Anderson, Hair & Bush 1988; Johnson 1976; Stanton & Buskirk 1978). A section on sales quotas in a recent sales management text (Anderson et al. 1988) reveals that there exists considerable appreciation for the possibility that sales quotas may have strong impacts on motivation and performance of salespeople. Anderson et al. suggest that

professional salespeople . have special incentives for
top performance. These sales incentives or motivational targets are called quotas and they may take a variety of
forms. Successful sales managers who skillfully make use of
sales force quotas can stimulate their salespeople to achieve exceptional individual and team performances.
[1988, p. 3541


However, despite the common use of quotas, there exists very limited research in the marketing literature that is directed toward investigating the effects that quotas have on performance.

The Goal Settina Phenomenon

The problems that may be associated with the motivational

properties of goal setting may be appreciated at an intuitive level. For, instance, we may conceive of a sales quota that has been set so high that it acts as a source of discouragement to the individual. Under such conditions, the quota may actually decrease the level at which the salesperson performs. On the other hand, if a quota is set too low, then the salesperson's employer could be utilizing only a part of the individual's potential, and once again extracting less than optimal performance from the salesperson. This scenario is an illustration of how changes in the levels of an externally set goal could affect performance.

In addition to the effect of the level of goals on performance,

the manner in which goals are scheduled also affect task motivation and performance, especially when goals are repeatedly assigned within a period of time. For instance, research suggests that the frequency with which goals are scheduled affect task motivation and performance (Bandura & Schunk 1981). Even when the goal levels are same across two or more goal conditions, different frecruencie5 of goal setting may account for differences in performance levels.


An useful taxonomic scheme which may be employed in the context of goal setting studies involves categorizing the issues into the static and the dynamic aspects of the phenomenon. The static representation of the phenomenon concerns issues that deal with the mechanisms involving cognitive processes and subsequent motivational properties of quotas or performance targets at a given point in time (or, at most, over brief periods). It addresses issues that concern the effect of the level of externally set goals on motivation and performance in terms of intervening cognitive variables, without explicit consideration of any effects of repetition and feedback.

The dynamic aspect of goal setting, on the other hand, concerns the issue of how performance goals interact with other factors over extended periods of time in its influence on motivation and performance. This aspect of goal setting considers how quota levels, performance, and feedback at a given point in time affect subsequent performance with respect to quotas. From a management perspective, questions related to the dynamic aspects of goal setting are at least of equal importance to the questions surrounding its static aspects. In a sales management context, quotas are important recurring features of business periods. Insight into the dynamics of the effect of quotas is, in the very least, relevant and perhaps even crucial from the standpoint of understanding and analyzing salesforce motivation.


ob ectives

Although relatively unknown to literature on salesperson

performance in marketing, goal setting within a broader organizational context has been a subject of extensive research in organizational behavior. Included among those studies are the few that address the effect of goal setting in sales situations (as, for example, Hollenbeck & Williams 1987; Huber & Neale 1987).

Studies that have explored the effects of goal setting have taken into consideration a wide variety of situations and subjects. For instance, goal setting studies have inquired into the performance of scientists and engineers (Andrews & Farris 1972), productivity of factory workers (Dachler & Mobley 1973), performance of chess players (Campbell & Ilgen 1976), behavior of households with regard to residential energy conservation (Becker 1978), class performance of second through fourth grade elementary school students (Hall & Hall 1976), and behavior of a university hockey team (Anderson, Crowell, Doman & Howard 1988), among several other application domains. For a comprehensive review of goal setting studies, refer to Locke, Shaw, Saari & Latham (1981). Tubbs (1986) reports results of a meta-analysis of 87 studies in the general area of goal setting for the purpose of estimating the extent of empirical support for the major postulates of Goal Setting Theory.

Despite the rather impressive list of goal setting studies in organizational behavior, with a few notable exceptions, most of the


studies have focussed on amassing empirical descriptions of the goal setting effect. Inquiries into the motivational and cognitive mechanisms that may account the phenomenon have been unsystematic and rare. Partly as a consequence, goal setting literature has been beset by conflicts among researchers of different paradigms and paradoxical observations. The objectives of this dissertation include addressing the substantive issues related to goal setting and at the same time proposing an overarching conceptual framework that may account for the seemingly conflicting positions of different research traditions. In addition to providing an integrating conceptual framework, this dissertation addresses the contradictory findings in previous studies and develops an experimental methodology for testing the theoretical propositions.

The conceptual model describes the goal setting process in terms of intervening cognitive and motivational variables and identifies the relevant interrelationships in order to account for the static aspects of the goal setting phenomenon. Subsequently, the mechanisms and variables identified in the conceptual framework are used to explore some of the dynamic aspects of goal setting. There exists very little research that has been directed toward these issues.

The-aretical Pers-pectives

In the marketing literature, an overwhelming proportion of prior research on salesforce motivation has adopted the Expectancy-Value framework (e.g., Cron, Dubinsky & Michaels 1988; Ingram & Bellenger


1983; Oliver 1974; Teas 1981; Tyagi 1982; and Walker et al. 1977). Predictions generated from the Expectancy-Value model can help in explaining the motivational effects of externally set goals on salespersons' performance. However, there exist other paradigms that can be used to examine this issue and have implications that sharply oppose the implications of Expectancy-Value Theory.

Since this dissertation actually addresses a phenomenon rather

than a specific question of theoretical interest alone, the theoretical perspective adopted is eclectic rather than exclusive. In addition to Expectancy-Value Theory (Vroom 1964, 1966) and Locke's Goal Setting Theory (Locke 1966, 1968), references are made to Atkinson's Achievement Motivation Model (Atkinson 1964, 1978; Atkinson & Feather 1966). Additionally, concepts drawn from Social Learning Theory (Bandura 1977a & b, 1982a & b; Bandura, Adams & Beyer 1977) are introduced to develop an integrative framework.

The framework presented suggests that these different theoretical perspectives are not necessarily opposed to each other as has been traditionally viewed in organizational behavior literature. On the contrary, these perspectives address separate although partly overlapping domains that can be made to mesh together in an overarching framework, so long as they are correctly interpreted.

This integrative theoretical perspective lends a richer accounting of the overall goal setting phenomenon, contributes to our understanding of substantive issues that had previously remained obscure, and provides


a framework based upon which subsequent research explorations may be attempted.


An important characteristic of the sales management context is the widespread use of and importance attached to sales quotas. These performance targets are also recognized to influence motivation and performance in the sales force. In marketing literature dealing with sales force issues, there exists very little prior research on the motivational effects of performance goals and related concerns.

In organizational behavior literature, on the other hand, research on goal setting has a rich tradition. However, limitations of prior research in this area include fragmented treatments of the processes involved in the goal setting effect. A large portion of the work done has been devoted to obtaining empirical support for select propositions within the paradigm, while attempts to explore the mechanisms and processes responsible for the goal setting phenomenon have been rare and fraught with controversies.

This dissertation contributes to the literature on salespersons' motivation and performance in marketing by

(1) introducing emerging perspectives to the area; specifically, Locke's Goal Setting Theory, Atkinson's Achievement Model, and Bandura's concept of self-efficacy;

(2) developing an integrative conceptual framework that reconciles conflicting theoretical positions;

(3) empirically examining the interrelationships among the various factors that are involved in the static aspects of the goal setting process; and

(4) extending prior research by examining issues related to the dynamic aspects of the effects of quotas on motivation and performance.

While the research in this dissertation is undertaken in a sales force context, the framework, propositions, and empirical results have broader implications. Estimating market share goals or objective arise in many marketing management and strategic management contexts. The proposed framework can potentially be modified to suit any organizational context within which motivated performance is important. The level at which the theoretical constructs have been dealt with in this thesis lends a good measure of generality to the propositions and recommendations outlined later.




The integrated framework outlined in the next chapter draws upon concepts in Vroom's Expectancy-Value Model, Locke's Goal Setting Theory, Atkinson's Achievement Motivation Model, and Bandura's Self-Efficacy Theory. In this chapter, each of these paradigms is briefly reviewed and critically evaluated in the context of the goal setting phenomenon.

In organizational behavior literature, Vroom's Expectancy-Value

Theory, Atkinson's Achievement Motivation Theory, and Locke's Theory of Goal Setting have been regarded for the most part as rival paradigms that offer competing recommendations regarding how goals should be set in order to maximize performance (Erez & Zidon 1984; Garland 1984; Hollenbeck & Klein 1987; Janz 1982; Matsui, Okada & Mizuguchi 1981; Mento, Cartledge & Locke 1980; Motowidlo, Loehr & Dunnette 1978) Some researchers have maintained that these research streams originate from separate traditions and that the differences between them are irreconcilable (e.g., Mento et al. 1980); while others have acknowledged the conflicts but have attempted to account for the predictions of one theory in light of another viewpoint (e.g., Matsui et al. 1981).

Following the overview, the remainder of this chapter is divided into five more sections. Sections two, three, and four broadly outline



each of Locke's, Vroom's. and Atkinson's model in turn, and describe how the proposals of each have been typically interpreted in the context of goal setting. The fifth section of the chapter examines in somewhat more detail studies dealing with and issues surrounding the comparisons and contrasts between these three theoretical viewpoints. The sixth and final section of this chapter is a critical exposition of the selfefficacy construct and its potential for contribution to the domain of goal setting.

Goal Settina Research

Locke's Goal Settina Theory

Locke's hypotheses concerning the effect of goals on performance have generally been referred to as Locke's Goal Setting Theory. The postulates of Goal Setting Theory are:

(1) hard goals produce a higher level of performance
(output) than easy goals; (2) specific hard goals produce a
higher level of output than a goal of "do your best"; and
(3) behavioral intentions regulate choice behavior. [Locke
1968, p. 157]

Locke et al. (1981) clarify that a basic assumption of the goal setting hypotheses is that the assigned goals are accepted by the individual. In other words, the goal setting effect (difficult and specific goals contributing to improved performance) may be expected to occur only when goals are accepted by the individuals to whom the goals are assigned.


Contributions of Locke's Theory--The Role of Conscious Intentions

Among the earliest instances of a laboratory study inquiring into the impact of goals on performance is included the work of Mace (1935), who found that subjects assigned a higher performance goal on a psychomotor task worked at a faster pace than those assigned a lower goal. Locke and his associates have played a major role in developing this finding into a stream of research on goal setting. Based on their investigations of task goals and motivated performance, they have established an influential research paradigm in organizational behavior that builds upon Ryan's (1958) conceptualization of motivated behavior. According to Ryan, one very important but under-emphasized determinant of motivated performance is the individual's intentions.

Previous research on issues related to behavior could be

classified into one of two polarized groups. Behaviorists in the tradition of Skinnerl chose to explain behavior without any reference whatsoever to the individuals' internal mediating processes; while most motivation and personality psychologists exploring the phenomena of performance emphasized processes that have been either left inexplicated Or assumed to involve complex unconscious reasoning on part of the individual.

Locke (1966, 1968) highlights Ryan's notion that it is perhaps

futile to attempt to conduct a laboratory experiment involving different

lRefer to Skinner (1953, 1971, 1974) for detailed expositions of his Position on the proper mode of inquiry into behavioral phenomena.


levels of performance of human subjects, in which the conscious intentions are not manipulated. Locke (1966) states that in electing to focus on uncovering the effects of the level of intended achievement on the actual level of achievement, his line of research departs sharply from the earlier, well-known approaches inquiring into the phenomenon of motivated performance. In his opinion, previous research on the determinants of performance, such as those that consider the effect of several social, situational or psychological factors on performance, do not specify what role the individual's conscious intentions play in the process and consequently remain considerably ambiguous. Locke (1966) mentions, for instance, the work of Atkinson (1958) and McClelland, Atkinson, Clark & Lowell (1953) on the relationship between need for achievement and performance. These researchers specifically acknowledge that the influence of "the need for achievement" on performance does not occur through the individual's conscious experience, even though it affects behavior visibly.

The Concept of the Goal--External vs Internal

There have been some confusion regarding what goals actually mean due to imprecise definitions in some cases and differences in the theoretical foci in others. For an individual, goals may be externally set (i.e., set by another person or agency) or goals may be thought of as having been self-set. There exist strong theoretical and empirical justifications in favor of the argument that these two types of goals are substantively very different in terms of the way they influence


performance. While some later researchers have consciously and deliberately explicated what they mean by their use of the term aoal with regard to whether it is externally set or self-set (e.g, Garland 1983, 1985), a number of previous studies suffer from ambiguity concerning this issue.

Locke et al. define a goal as "what an individual is trying to

accomplish; it is the object or aim of action" (1981, p. 126). Based on this definition, it would appear that they are referring to an internal or self-set goal. This definition evidently obviates the issue of goal acceptance or goal rejection (by the individual), as is characteristic of self-set goals. However, they also acknowledge other frequently used concepts that are similar in meaning to that of a goal, as for instance, performance standard, quota, work norm, objective, deadline, and budget. Additionally, in their earlier experimental paradigm as well as in their statement of hypotheses, goals are, for the most part, identified with specific externally assigned target performance levels.

Locke's initial imprecision with regard to the the distinction

between internal and external goals can be understood when one considers that the need for this distinction had not arisen at the time, and that Locke and his associates wanted to project a cognitive-p5ychological orientation as opposed to a stimulus-respon3e behaviorist approach. Nevertheless, their enunciation of the construct has been subject to questioning, if not Criticism. According to Naylor & Ilgen, "in order to describe goals with any degree of precision, much more must be addressed beyond Itheirl definition" (1984, p. 97). Garland similarly


points out that "confusion in literature . may stem from a lack of clear distinction between an externally assigned goal and a task goal, as defined here . . The task goal is self-set; thus, it makes little sense to question its acceptance by the individual" (1985, p. 348).

As the postulates of the Goal Setting Theory indicate, most of the early work and a substantial proportion of contemporary goal setting research concern externally set goals. Garland (1985), on the other hand, is an instance of a study that inquires into questions related to self-set or "task" goals. Research on externally set goals and self-set goals are not incompatible, however; a particular study may choose to include both kinds of goals as its objects of inquiry. As long as the concepts are clarified at the outset, it should not create either conceptual or communication problems. Garland (1983) and Stedry (1960) are examples of studies that include both assigned goals (external) and personal goals (internal) in their ambits. Iml2lications

In espousing his theoretical viewpoint and providing rationale for his hypothesis, Locke (1966, 1968) and his associates (Locke et al. 1981) explicitly indicate that their conceptualization poses a challenge and an alternative to Vroom's and Atkinson's notion of how motivated performance occurs. In their opinion, the idea that motivation and performance can be correlated with expectancy of task success not only contradicts their viewpoint but is flawed as well. The body of


empirical research in the tradition of Locke thus emerged as a rival paradigm to the theoretical perspectives of Vroom's and Atkinson.

In organizational behavior literature, however, an overwhelmingly large proportion of studies report only empirical support for the goal setting hypotheses without attempting to inquire into its theoretical structure. Consequently, goal setting has acquired the distinct flavor of being an applied tool to a greater extent than the reputation for being a cognitive construct at the focus of rigorous theoretical inquiry. It may be worthwhile to note at this juncture that some researchers have referred to the domain of goal setting variously as a "motivational technique" (Latham & Locke 1979; Locke & Latham 1984), a 'Imotivational technology" (Naylor & Ilgen 1984), and the "technique of goal setting" (Locke 1978).

The framework proposed in this study attempts to account for the cognitive mechanisms responsible for the goal setting effect and interrelates them with the Expectancy Theory constructs.

Exj ectancv Theory


The Expectancy-Value Model of motivation, first introduced to

organizational behavior by Vroom (1964), has had a substantial impact on research on salespersons' motivation in the marketing literature. Oliver (1974) first applied the Expectancy-Value Model, also referred to as Expectancy Theory, in a sales context. Walker et al. (1977) followed soon after and offered a conceptual model that identified a set of


individual, interpersonal, organizational and environmental variables that are likely to influence a salesperson's motivation and performance. While their model incorporates many concepts and research findings from industrial psychology, the foundation of the model rests on Expectancy Theory. Subsequent studies that have adopted the Expectancy-Value Model in some form or another include Cron, Dubinsky & Michaels (1988); Ingram & Bellenger (1983); Teas (1981); Teas & McElroy (1986); and Tyagi (1982, 1985).

Oliver (1974) notes that Expectancy Theory has its origins in the pioneering works of Lewin (1938) and Tolman (1932). Their studies suggest that humans (among several other organisms) possess approachavoidance tendencies, which are influenced by cognitive representations of desirabilities of the end states of their target actions as well as some kind of mental calculus reflecting the contingency of the target action and the end state.

The Expectancy-Value Model

The basic postulate of Expectancy Theory as applied to

organizational behavior (Vroom 1964) is that an individual's job performance (P) is a multiplicative function of his/her motivation (M) and ability (A), i.e.,

P f (M x A)

Motivation (M), in turn, is a multiplicative function of expectancy (E), valence (V), and instrumentality (I), so that

M f (E x V x I).


Expectancy refers to the individual's subjective probability that effort will lead to a given level of performance, while instrumentality (I) is a subjective correlation1 that the same performance level will be associated with certain outcomes. The valence (V) refers to the desirabilities of each of the outcomes associated with the given performance level. Valences can be both positive and negative.

One implication of Expectancy Theory which has wielded

considerable influence on subsequent theorizing is the idea that the desirability of a reward an the individual's estimate of how likely he or she will be in securing the reward constitute equally important motivators of action.

The Exoectancy Construct

Within the Expectancy-Value framework, the expectancy construct refers to an individual's assessment of the contingency between the level of effort expended at specific tasks and being able to achieve a spoecific level of p erformance. In the context of salespersons, motivation, expectancy may be defined as

instrumentality, unlike expectancy, is not a probability
estimate. Expectancies are typically scaled to range from 0 to 1.0, while the values of instrumentality are scaled to range from -1.0 to +1.0. Instrumentality is defined as the extent to which a given performance level is estimated to cause the attainment of an outcome or lead to the blocking (prevention) of the outcome. Mitchell (1979) argues that these properties of instrumentality make it a correlation estimate rather than a probability estimate. He notes, however, that several studies have failed to notice this subtlety and have measured instrumentality incorrectly.


the salesman's estimate of the probability that expending a given amount of effort on task (i) will lead to an improved
level of performance on some performance dimension (j).
[Walker et al. 1977, p. 162]

This conceptualization of expectancy adopted by Walker et al. (1977) is actually similar to a refinement of the construct of expectancy that was originally proposed by Porter & Lawler (1968) and subsequently amplified by Campbell, Dunnette, Lawler & Weick (1970). These researchers were instrumental in dividing expectancy into two parts E-I, the perceived contingency between effort and performance, and E-II which refers to the perceived contingency between performance and outcomes. Prior to this, expectancy was often used to refer to the perceived contingency between effort and outcome. It is the E-I representation of expectancy that is reflected in the definition of Walker et al. (1977) and the one that is more commonly accepted in organizational behavior literature. While E-II also measures some aspect of expectancy, that measure is viewed as exerting no or, in the very least, an insignificant amount of impact in comparison with E-I. Expectancy I or E-I measures how the individual evaluates the possibility of task success; while E-II is, in a sense, a probabilistic estimate of the worth of that task success. That is, E-I is visualized as being more contiguous to the self and the motivational systems of the individual than any other measure. This idea is also explicitly advocated in Bandurals Self-efficacy Theory (Bandura 1977a & b, 1982a & b) as will be discussed in detail later.

Many researchers who have dealt with the Expectancy-Value framework, including some in applied psychology, have been quite unconcerned about this point regarding the concept of expectancy and


have interpreted the construct too broadly. Expectancy is often used as a global term to refer to the subjective probability that action will lead to a set of outcomes. These outcomes have been specified at very general levels and do not correspond to spcii performance levels suggested in the refinements of the Expectancy-Value framework.

The misconceptions regarding what the expectancy construct

actually stands for is evident in the way it has been measured in a number of studies. For example, Oliver (1974) operationalized expectancy as the subjective probability of an individual that his or her efforts would lead to the attainment of performance goals. The expectancy construct, as operationalized by Tyagi (1982, 1985), measures individuals' probability estimates that working hard will lead to high productivity, good job performance, and timely completion of work. In one of the two measures of expectancy, Kohli (1985) used a 3-item instrument that measured individuals' perceptions of "linkages between working hard and productivity, job performance, and doing a job well" (p. 428).1

Sujan (1983) draws attention to this discord between the

operational and conceptual definitions of expectancy. He speculates that the difficulty in measuring expectancy at the specific level could

l1n another measure of expectancy, however, Kohli (1985) used a
modified version of a scale originally used by Sims, Szilagyi & MoKemey (1976) The original scale was designed to measure "Expectancy I" (or E-I), as proposed by Porter & Lawler (1968) and subsequently amplified by Campbell, Dunnette, Lawler & Weick (1970).


have forced researchers of salesforce motivation to adopt more easily assessed global measures. He suggests that for a salesperson with several customers, a proper expectancy measure would involve questioning the salesperson (separately for each customer) regarding his/her estimates of the chances of achieving a target level of sales, given that he/she spent only a specific level of effort on the customer. Additionally, such measures should also be obtained for several different levels of effort (from 50% below normal to 50% above normal, for instance) in order to have a reasonable understanding of the salesperson's perceived effort-performance relationship. For example, one measure of expectancy used by Teas (1981) did consist of probability estimates concerning the the productivity of a 10% increase in selling efforts, a 10% increase in time devoted to obtaining to new accounts, and a 10% increase in time devoted to selling activities.

Another method similar to the one suggested by Sujan (1983) and adopted by Teas (1981) could involve obtaining separate expectancy measures corresponding to different performance levels (or goals). That is, the questions used for measuring expectancy could probe for individuals' probability estimates of achieving different levels of performance standards, instead of varying the projected effort levels. In fact, as will be discussed in more detail later, this conceptualization of expectancy is the one that is most meaningful within the context of goal setting research.


Antecedents of Exp~ectancy

Uncovering factors that contribute to the development of

expectancies has been an important objective of several studies (e.g., Oldham 1976; Peters 1977; Pritchard, De Leo & Von Bergen 1976; Sims, Sziiagyi & McKemey 1976 in organizational behavior and Kohli 1985; Sujan 1983; Teas 1981; Teas & McElroy 1986; Tyagi 1982 in salesforce motivation literature) Sujan (1983), for instance, summarizes the antecedents of expectancy and categorizes them into one of the following four classes: ability related (such as, self-esteem, skills, and experience), reward contingencies (perceived link between effort and obtaining rewards), task related (such as, competition, territory potential, general economic condition, etc.), and organizational factors (e.g., job challenge and variety, job importance, task conflict, role overload, etc.).

For the purpose of this research on goal setting, a simpler,

dichotomous classification scheme suffices. This scheme categorizes the antecedents of expectancy into either an interal or an external group. As a cognitive variable, expectancy is typically hypothesized to be influenced by other cognitive factors. That is, the probability estimates that constitute expectancies are viewed as consequences (or even integrations) of other cognitions. These two broad categories relate to Sujan's (1983) four categories as follows: internal factors, involving cognitions related to the self, and external (or task) factors that primarily involve the individual's perceptions of job characteristics and job environment. While the results of much of prior


research on the antecedents of expectancy are significant for goal setting research, the proposed internal/external categorization is the one that contributes most directly yet parsimoniously to the understanding of the forthcoming frameworks.

Internal antecedents of expectancy. In a review of organizational behavior research related to antecedents of expectancy, Mitchell (1979) identifies the following studies that considerably enrich our knowledge of internal (or self-related) factors which potentially contribute to expectancy. Oldham (1976) observed that individuals with higher selfesteem also possessed higher expectancies. A number of studies (Lied & Pritchard 1976; Mitchell, Smyser & Weed 1975; Sims, Szilagyi & McKemey 1976) found that individuals with internal locus of control have higher expectancies than those with external locus of control. The interpretation of this research suggested by Mitchell is that

people who are confident about their ability to influence
the world around them see stronger relationships between
what they do and the results of their actions than do people
who see these outcomes occurring as a function of fate or
luck. [1979, p. 2551

In literature on salesforce motivation, Walker et al. (1977) include self-esteem and perceived competence among suggested antecedents of expectancy. Their rationale is based upon the earlier work of Korman (1971) and Lawler (1970). Consistent with the preceding observations, Kohli (1985) found that salespeople's Self-esteem has a strong effect on their expectancies. Teas (1981) found specific self-esteem to be positively related to expectancy. Earlier, Bagozzi (1978, 1980) had observed that self-esteem was related to performance.


In sum, there exists strong theoretical as well as empirical support for the contention that cognitions related to the self are included among valid antecedents of expectancy.

External antecedents of ex]2ectancy. Among external factors that are theorized to affect expectancy are included general economic conditions, territorial potential, competition and raw material shortages (Walker et al. 1977). Tyagi (1982) provides evidence that expectancy is also affected by "organizational climate variables" such as job challenge and variety, task conflict, job importance, leadership consideration and other such factors.

In the context of goal setting research, it is important to realize that along with perceptions concerning the self, task characteristics (or perceptions thereof) influence expectancy estimates as well. It is intuitive and completely reasonable to assume that as the task actually gets more difficult, individuals' perceptions of task difficulty will also reflect that change to a great extent. In other words, individuals' perceptions of task difficulty (and therefore expectancy estimates) are expected to follow and be influenced by objective characteristics of the task, including level of difficulty.

In organizational behavior literature, in an article reporting the results of an empirical study on the relationship between task design and individual responses, Alegra (1983) shows that an individual's perceptions reflect the objective character of the task and influence


attitudinal and behavioral responses.1 Within the realm of goal setting research, this translates into the idea that "as goals difficulty increases, the {subjective} probability of goal attainment decreases" (Campbell 1982, p. 80) The idea that more difficult goals contribute to lowered subjective probabilities (or expectancies) of task success has been widely tested and accepted in this research domain (e.g, Garland 1982, 1983, 1984; Locke 1964; Matsui, Okada & Mizuguchi 1981; Mento, Cartledge & Locke 1980; Motowidlo, Loehr & Dunnette 1978). Implications for-Goal Setting

Since expectancy of task success may be expected to diminish as the externally set goal level is increased (i.e., made more difficult), Vroom's Expectancy Theory has often been interpreted to imply that as goals are made more difficult, motivation and task performance decrease monotonically (Garland 1984; Janz 1982; Motowidlo et al. 1978; Mento et al. 1980); or conversely, as subjective probability of success (or expectancy) increases, performance improves correspondingly (Dachier & Mobley 1973; Matsui & Tashitake 1975; Schwab & Dyer 1973; Sheridan, Slocum & mi 1975).

1This study is a methodological refinement of a line of research based on the "job characteristic approach" (Hackman & Lawler 1971; Hackman & Oldham 1975, 1976) This approach views the task as perceived by the task performer as the determinant of behavior and attitude. Included among the conclusions arrived at through these studies is the one that suggests that perception of task performers is reasonably well grounded in objective reality.


Matsui et al. (1981), however, propose a more sophisticated

explanation of how Expectancy Theory postulates may account for Goal Theory predictions. They suggest that for easy goals, while the expectancies for reaching the goal are high, the valences of doing so may be low. For difficult goals, the values of expectancy and valence would be reversed. It should be noted that treatment of valence in Matsui et al. (1981) is different from the traditional Vroomian exposition of the construct. In Vroom's theory, valence of an outcome is a summation of the valences (or the desirabilities) of the rewards associated with the outcomes. The conceptualization proposed by Matsui et al. (1981), on the other hand, bears a great deal of resemblance with Atkinson's notion of the incentive value of task success. Even so, the notion that difficult goals may be valued differently than easy goals is an important one in this context.

Garland (1984) contends that manipulating expectancy by varying goal difficulty violates the boundary conditions of Expectancy Theory. In his opinion, support for Expectancy Theory predictions may be found within a goal setting experiment provided certain conditions are met. Details of these and other issues will be discussed in a forthcoming section of this chapter devoted to comparisons and contrasts between the models.

In sum, however, theories originating from the expectancy-value tradition, including Atkinson's model, have for long been considered to be in conflict with Locke's proposals.


Achievement Motivation


The Theory of Achievement Motivation (Atkinson 1964, 1978;

Atkinson & Feather 1966) shares its genesis with Expectancy Theory in the early works of Lewin and his associates on the resultant valence theory of the level of aspiration (refer to, Lewin, Dembo, Festinger, & Sears 1944, for a summary), and in the works of Tolman (1932, 1955). Consequently, it bears some resemblance with Expectancy Theory in its structure. At the same time, however, the Theory of Achievement Motivation possesses certain distinctive characteristics.

This line of research evolved from the works of a team of

researchers which began at the University of Michigan in the late 1940s in the studies of the effects of hunger, and later of experimentally induced motivation to achieve, on the content of thematic apperception, i.e., imaginative behavior (Atkinson & McClelland 1948; McClelland & Atkinson 1948; McClelland, Clark, Roby & Atkinson 1949). Achievement Motivation Theory essentially developed from a research stream with a strong interest in enduring individual differences and their effects on performance. In contrast, Expectancy Theory centered more on the subjective analyses of potential rewards arising from behaviors. "Motive" and "Motivation"

Within the framework of Achievement Motivation, the terms "motive" and "motivation" have distinct meanings. motive usually refers to an individual difference variable, an inherent and stable property of the


personality. It is often characterized as "a latent disposition to strive for a particular goal-state or aim, e.g., achievement, affiliation, power" (Atkinson & Reitman 1958, p. 279). Atkinson's formal definition is as follows.

The term, motive, has been used to refer to the disposition
within the person to strive to approach a certain class of
positive incentives (goals) or avoid a certain class of
negative incentives (threats). [1958, p. 3031

Motivation, on the other hand, is a term used to refer to the

tendeary, readiness, or inclination to initiate behavior. It has been characterized as the "aroused state of the person that exists when a motive has been engaged by the appropriate expectancy" (Atkinson & Reitman 1968, p. 279). This use of the term, motivation, is very similar to, if not identical with, the usage in most psychological theories, including Expectancy Theory. In Atkinson's language,

the arousal of motivation to approach, i.e., to perform the
act, is equivalent to the expected positive utility of the
consequences. Here the term motivation is used to designate the activated state of the person which occurs when the cues of a situation arouse the expectancy that performance of an act will lead to an incentive for which he has a motive . .
The arousal of motivation to avoid, i.e., not to perform the act, is equivalent to the expected negative utility of the consequences . . The resultant motivation, which is
expressed directly in performance, is a summation of
motivation to approach and motivation to avoid. [1958,
p. 304]

The Princil2le of Achievement Motivation

In mathematical terms, Atkinson suggests that for an individual the tendency to achieve success, Ts, can be expressed as follows.

Ts ms Ps Is, where,

ms = the "motive" to achieve success,


Ps = the subjective probability (expectancy) of achieving success, and

is = the incentive value of success. A crucial assumption in Atkinson's formulation of motivation is that the incentive value of achieving success is related negatively to the expectancy of achieving success as follows: IS = (1 PS). This negative relationship implies that the incentive value of success, i.e., the satisfaction derived from achieving the goal, is lowest for extremely easy tasks (which have high expectancies) and is the highest for very difficult or impossible tasks (whose expectancies are close to zero). Consequently, the expression for Ts reduces to

Ts = ms. (PS) (1 PS) .

Similarly, the tendency of the individual to avoid failure, Tf, can be expressed as Tf = mf Pf If, where,

mf = the "motive" to avoid failure, Pf = the subjective probability of failure, and If = the incentive value of failure. Again, it is assumed that the incentive value of failure, If, is equal in magnitude but opposite in sign to the subjective probability (or expectancy) of success, Ps. In other words, If = (- PS). This implies that the incentive value of failure is always a negative quantity (or at best zero), since failure is a noxious event. Also, if the possibility of success is high (i.e., Ps is high), then the act of failing is more negatively evaluated than the converse situation where


the probability of success is low. The expression for Tf then reduces to Tf = mf.Pf. (- PS).

Finally, Atkinson assumes that Ps + Pf = 1; so that Pf = (1 Ps). Consequently, we have Tf = mf. ( Ps).- Ps); i.e, Tf = = mf. (Ps). (1 Ps)

The total (or resultant) tendency to approach or avoid, i.e., the consequent motivation, T = Ts + Tf. That is, T = [ms. (Ps).(l Ps)] + [- mf.(Ps).(l Ps)], or T = (ms mf) (Ps) (1 PS).

If "m" represents the difference between the motive to achieve success and the motive to avoid failure, i.e., if m = (ms mf), then the resultant tendency or motivation, T, may be expressed as T = m. (Ps). ( Ps), or, alternatively as T = m.[Ps (Ps)2].


The preceding mathematical expression for T suggests that the

value of T is a continuous function of Ps. For positive values of m, T is minimized when Ps = 0 or Ps = 1.0; and maximized when Ps = 0.5. That is, for individuals in whom the motive to achieve success exceeds the motive to avoid failure, the task motivation will be nil when the expectancy of task success is 0 or 1; while the motivation will be the greatest for tasks associated with a 0.5 subjective probability of success. In other words, these individuals are motivated mostly by by tasks of intermediate difficulty and their motivation diminishes as the


perceived difficulty approaches the very easy (complete certitude of success) or the impossible (absolute certainty of failure).

For negative values of m, the situation is reversed: T is maximum at Ps = 0 and Ps = 1.0; and minimum at Ps = 0.5. That is, for individuals in whom the motive to avoid failure exceeds the motive to achieve success, task motivation will be minimum for tasks of intermediate difficulty and maximum for tasks that are either very easy (complete certitude of success) or impossible (absolute certainty of failure).

For individuals in whom the two motives are equal, task motivation is not contingent upon expectancy or subjective probability of success.

The Comoetitive outlook

This section discusses the several studies that address the mutual conflicts and inconsistencies embodied in Lockels, Vroom's, and Atkinson's models.

Motowidlo et al. (1978) was one of the first influential studies to explore the possible contradictions. According to these researchers, the three aforementioned theories differ considerably with regard to their predictions of how increased levels of externally set goals affect performance. Their interpretation of the goal setting effect from the point of view of each of the three theoretically distinct positions is summarized as follows.

Vroom's Expectancy-Value Theory proposes that performance is

directly related to motivation which in turn is a function of expectancy


and valence. Since difficult goals should translate into lowered expectancies, raising the level of difficulty of an externally set should diminish motivation and, consequently, performance in the task. In other words, Expectancy Theory is interpreted by Motowidlo et al. (1978) as suggesting that performance is a monotonically decreasing function of the level of difficulty of externally set goals.

In contrast, Locke's Goal Setting Theory explicitly states that more difficult and specific goals result in improved performance, provided the externally set goals are accepted by the individual performing the task. Ths implies that performance is a monotonically increasing function of the level of difficulty of externally set goals.

Atkinson's Achievement Motivation Theory provides the third distinct position with regard to the impact of goal difficulty on performance. According to Motowidlo et al. (1978), it follows from the propositions of Achievement Motivation Theory that individuals are likely to have the highest motivation for (and perform best at) tasks of intermediate difficulty. Thus, the relationship between the level of goal difficulty and performance is non-monotonic. Specifically, the relationship is an inverted U-shaped function, with the highest performance occurring at intermediate levels of goal difficulty for individuals in whom the motive to achieve success exceeds the motive to avoid failure. For individuals in whom the motive to avoid failure is stronger than the motive to achieve success, the relationship is an Ushaped function with performance at maximum for intermediate levels of task difficulty. Finally, for individuals in whom the two "motives" are


equal, performance should be independent of the level of task difficulty.

Motowidlo et al. (1978) suggest that the differential treatment of "goal specificity" in the various research paradigms may partly explain the fact that scholars of each of these conflicting viewpoints usually find support for only their own research hypotheses. For example, Locke and his associates have typically focussed on the effects of specific goals; while researchers in the tradition of Vroom and Atkinson have generally not utilized specific quantitative goals. Instead, task difficulty and probability of success were manipulated by reporting to the subjects varying proportions of task performers (subjects) who could be expected to succeed at the task. Motowidlo et al. (1978) hypothesize that for specific goals, task performance and probability of success should be negatively related (in accordance with Locke's proposal); while for ambiguous goals the relationship should be either positive or curvilinear. The authors found no support for Locke's model which posits an inverse relationship between expectancy and performance. On the contrary, they observed an inverted U-shaped relationship between objective probability of task success and performance, with the maximum performance occurring at intermediate probability levels. The relationship between subjective probability of success and performance was found to be linear and Positive.

Mento et al. (1980) interpret the differences in the three

paradigms similarly and also identify the different research traditions from which these separate positions evolved. These researchers,


however, challenged the validity of the findings of Motowidlo et al. (1980) and outlined a number of conceptual and methodological drawbacks in that study. According to Mento et al. (1980), the lack of support for Locke's assertion (that the expectancy-performance relationship is negative and linear) could be attributed to these drawbacks.

In the first of two experiments reported in Mento et al. (1980),

the independent variables were goal difficulty and vaec (manipulated

by offering three levels of monetary incentives for reaching the assigned goal) These factors were used in a crossed factorial design and their effects on effort and performance were measured. The authors observed that performance was unaffected by any Goal Theory or Expectancy Theory variables. The results also indicated that subjective probability of success (expectancy) was negatively correlated with effort at a significant level. However, when the effect of "subjective goal difficulty" was partialled out, this correlation was reduced to nonsignificance. The most immediate determinant of effort was the level of the individual's personal goal. With this variable partialled out, the correlation between subjective goal difficulty and effort reduced to nonsignificance. A supplementary analysis revealed that the personal goal effect was greater for subjects with high expectancies than for those with low expectancies.

In the second experiment, the authors attempted to manipulate

subjective probability of success and goal difficulty, orthogonally. it was found that expectancy and valence "were unrelated to effort and performance when the other factors were controlled" (Mento et al. 1980,


p. 438). However, these authors failed to replicate the negative, linear relationship between objective probability of success and performance as posited by Locke.

Garland (1984) attempts to integrate the diverging opinions and observations in the two aforementioned studies. He notes that while Mento et al. (1980) suggested that Expectancy Theory variables (expectancy and valence) affect goal acceptance, a Goal Theory variable; others have proposed the reverse. For instance, both Steers & Porter (1974) and Matsui et al. (1981) have asserted that goal attributes affect Expectancy Theory variables.

Garland (1984) suggests that some of the conflicts may be resolved by a closer look at how the relation between effort-performance expectancy and performance has been treated in prior goal setting literature. He notes that

researchers working in this area have failed to distinguish
between expectancy-performance correlations within as
compared to between goal groups. That is, although
expectancy may be related negatively to performance across groups assigned goals of varying levels of difficulty, the relationship between expectancy and performance within goal groups may well be positive. Most researchers have simply
ignored this distinction and collapsed goal groups when
computing expectancy-performance correlations. This may account for the close to zero correlations that have been
observed in previous studies. [Garland 1984, p. 80]

The author suggests that higher expectancies should contribute to higher performance, provided all things, including goals, are equal.

Implicit in Garland's (1984) arguments is the idea that for

studies intending to measure expectancy-performance relationships, the varying of the level of goal difficulty cannot be considered a valid


operationalization of the expectancy construct, even though increasing the level of goal difficulty lowers expectancy. According to him, such an operationalization would systematically report a false lack of expectancy-performance relationship. The precise manner in which expectancy fits into the goal setting phenomenon, as suggested by the integrating framework proposed in this study, shall be delineated in a forthcoming section of this report.

Concerned with the controversy surrounding the expectancyperformance relationship, Janz (1982) manipulated subjective expectancy by providing differential feedback of performance scores to individuals assigned the task. His results provide partial support for the view that expectancy-performance relationship is inverted U-shaped. The findings also revealed that subjects with intermediate levels of expectancy outperformed those having low or high expectancies.

Erez & Zidon (1984) proposed that goal acceptance could be a factor that moderates the relationship between expectancy and performance and could be a key factor in reconciling the inconsistencies between Locke's and Atkinson's models. They found support for their hypotheses that the expectancy-performance relationship is positive and linear for accepted goals; it is negative and linear for rejected goals; and the slope reversal (from positive to negative) is associated with transition from positive to negative values of goal acceptance. Earlier, Steers & Porter had expressed a similar idea in their conjecture that


part of the seeming contradiction between Atkinson and Locke
is that Locke was defining the right half of Atkinson's
bell-shaped curve as either approaching or lying within a zone of impossibility, and thus it was not considered part
of the goal difficulty-performance relationship. The
remaining left half of Atkinson's curve closely resembles
Locke's increasing linear function. [1974, p. 442]

It requires to be mentioned at this juncture, however, that both Erez & Zidon (1984) and Steers & Porter (1974) are actually offering theoretical rationale for the inverted U-shaped curve in particular, rather than providing empirical support for the original Achievement Motivation Model. Atkinson's original model include proposals that generate U-shaped, inverted U-shaped, or flat (i.e., horizontal) expectancy-performance relationships. In other words, these studies have attempted to inquire beyond the boundary conditions of Goal Setting Theory and have proposed that the inverted U-shaped curve is a natural extension of Locke's model rather than provide theoretical insights that integrate Locke's conceptual foundations with those of Atkinson.

Additionally, Atkinson's formulation specifies that performance and motivation should be maximum when subjective probability is 0.5, while Erez & Zidon (1984) found the threshold for goal rejection to be located between objective probabilities of 0.1 and 0.3. These authors did not report subjective probability-performance relationships, except to indicate that subjective probability correlated significantly with objective probability, with correlation coefficients very close to one. It must also be noted that, contrary to the observations of Erez & Zidon (1984), Locke and his associates have found no effect of goal acceptance on performance in several studies (Frost & Mahoney 1976; London & Oldham


1976; Mento et al. 1980; Oldham 1975; Yukl & Latham 1978) Finally, Erez & Zidon (1984) manipulated obetv goal difficulty and did not

report the correlations between subjective goal difficulty and performance. As Janz (1982) notes, it is the correlation between sujectiv probability and performance which is the focus of the controversy. Also, as Garland (1984) has observed, it is possible to obtain stable relationships between levels of goal difficulty and performance (i.e., objective probabilities of success and performance) across goal groups; while the expectancy-performance correlations may remain positive within goal groups. However, having stated all this, this study acknowledges the importance of the work of Erez & Zidon (1984) in contributing toward an integrated framework that will eventually reconcile a good measure of the conflicts examined thus far.

Hollenbeck & Klein (1987) develop the idea proposed by Erez &

Zidon (1984) further in distinguishing between goal commitment and goal acceptance. They adopt the definition of goal commitment originally suggested by Campion & Lord (1982) and indicate that "commitment implies the extension of effort, over time, toward the accomplishment of an original goal and emphasizes an unwillingness to abandon or lower the original goal" (Hollenbeck & Klein 1987, p. 212) on the other hand, acceptance of difficult goals is supposed to refer merely to "the initial use of a goal assigned by another person as a referent. Goal acceptance does not necessarily imply that the individual is bound to the standard" (Hollenbeck & Klein 1987, p. 212) These authors propose an Expectancy Theory Model of the goal commitment process in which, they


suggest, goal commitment is a function of the multiplicative interaction of the "attractiveness of goal attainment" and the "expectancy of goal attainment." Goal commitment, in turn, moderates the relationship between goal level and task performance. The authors identify several antecedents of "attractiveness of goal attainment" and "expectancy of goal attainment," which they classify into situational and personal factors.

One issue that this model has overlooked is the possibility that the goal levels themselves affect expectancies of goal attainment (with higher or more difficult goals contributing to lowered expectancies). Although the authors acknowledge that feedback loops may exist, omission of this well known effect reduces the model to an unacceptable level of simplicity, so far as its capability to integrate conflicting paradigms is concerned.



The self-efficacy construct is introduced within the context of goal setting since the conceptual framework in this study uses the construct to interrelate Goal Theory and Expectancy Theory variables. However, the treatment of the construct in this study will differ somewhat, especially with regard to the way it is measured. Details of these and other issues are described in this section.

Self-efficacy is a key construct in Social Learning Theory

(Bandura 1977a). Bandura describes this theory as an unified framework


for analyzing human thought and behavior. Social Learning Theory emphasizes the importance of vicarious, symbolic, and self-regulatory processes in psychological functioning and adopts a perspective that attempts to explain behavior in terms of a continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental determinants. In espousing the case for an interactionist position, Bandura (1977a, 1982b) suggests that the traditional view of interactionism, the idea that behavior results from the interaction of persons and situations, needs refinement.

The interactionist approach is usually embodied in the relation B =f (P, E), where B represents behavior, P the person, and E the environment. According to Bandura, the traditional interpretation of the interactionist position adopts a static perspective since it considers the person and the environment to be independent entities that combine to result in behavior. This notion of interaction, termed "unidirectional" by Bandura, is a severely limited view of behavioral phenomena, since person and environmental factors can and do influence each other.

A more advanced but still somewhat deficient conceptualization is reflected in the "partly bi-directional" view of interaction. In this, persons and situations are acknowledged to be interdependent causes of behavior; but behavior is considered to be merely a consequence with no

influence in the causal process [B = f (P <+ E) I.


In the social learning view of interaction, known as "reciprocal determinism." behavior, personal factors, and environmental factors are considered to be mutually interactive determinants of each other.

Bandura (1982b) suggests that it is difficult and perhaps

impossible to study all aspects of this triadic reciprocality at the same time. Researchers may choose to focus on different segments of the interlocking reciprocality, without denying the existence and the possibility of influence by other parts of the chain. For instance, some investigators choose to inquire into the interaction between cognition and behavior and explore how conceptions, beliefs, perceptions of the self, and intentions affect behavior, on one hand; and how the consequences of behavior, in turn, alter thought patterns and affective responses. The author cites his own exposition of the self-efficacy construct (Bandura 1977b) as belonging to this domain. The Construct

Self-efficacy is an individual-difference construct that refers to a person's perception of his or her own level of mastery within a limited task domain. In Bandura's language, "perceived self-efficacy is concerned with judgements of how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations" (1982a, p. 122).

From the social learning perspective, knowledge and skills are

necessary but not sufficient for successful performances or accomplished behavior. Evidence for this belief is found in the frequent suboptimal behavior of individuals, even when they possess full knowledge of the


required behavior patterns. Bandura (1982a) argues that self-referent thought is a powerful motivator of the relationship between knowledge and behavior. Beliefs concerning a person's own capabilities are clearly very strong determinants of the inclination (or motivation) that individuals develop for either approaching and persisting in a course of action or avoiding a given behavior. Although self-efficacy does correlate with true ability to a considerable extent, this relationship is susceptible to a significant amount of influence from factors that relate to how the task is structured for the individual, and the manner in which it is learned or abstracted by the task performer. Bandura suggests that

efficacy in dealing with one's environment, is not a fixed
act or simply a matter of knowing what to do. Rather, it
involves a generative capability in which component
cognitive, social, and behavioral skills must be organized
into integrated courses of action to serve innumerable
purposes . . Self-efficacy judgements, whether accurate
or faulty, influence choice of activities and environmental settings. People avoid activities that they believe exceed
their coping capabilities, but they undertake and perform
assuredly those that they judge themselves capable of
managing. . Judgements of self-efficacy also determine how much effort people will expend and how long they will
persist in the face of obstacles or aversive experiences.
[1982a, p. 122-1231

The construct of self-efficacy has been found to be a powerful determinant of motivated performance in the realm of behavior modification within which it was developed. The original studies dealt with uncovering the antecedents of self-efficacy and measuring how well it correlated with performance, in settings involving modification of avoidance behavior of phobics (Bandura & Adams 1977; Bandura, Adams & Beyer 1977; Bandura, Adams, Hardy & Howells 1980; Lee 1984).


Subsequently, the effectiveness of the construct has been tested in a wide range of application domains including the prediction of writing performance (Meier, McCarthy & Schmeck 1984), behavior of sex offenders (Segal & Marshall 1986), occupational preferences of college students (Betz & Hackett 1981; Clement 1987; Wheeler 1983), performance in athletic activities (Feltz 1982; Feltz & Mungo 1983; Feltz, Landers & Raeder 1979; Lee 1982; McAuley 1985; McAuley & Gill 1983; Weinberg, Gould & Jackson 1979; Weinberg, Yukelson & Jackson 1980), adoption of new technology (Hill, Smith & Mann 1987), and in the training for pain tolerance (Manning & Wright 1983; Vallis & Bucher 1986), as well as in the context of training for weight control/reduction (Bernier & Avard 1986; Glynn & Ruderman 1986), controlling the smoking habit (Condiotte & Lichtenstein 1981; DiClemente 1981; DiClemente, Prochaska & Gibertini 1985; Godding & Glasgow 1985)), and treatment for alcoholism (Rollnick & Heather 1982).

Within the context of organizational behavior, self-efficacy has been found to be a determinant of goal-choice (i.e., the level Of selfset goal) in a performance task (Locke, Frederick, Lee & Bobko 1984). This study indicated that self-efficacy continued to be a significant predictor of future performance even when past performance was controlled. Based on their observations, these authors speculated that the self-efficacy concept could provide an integrating mechanism between the goal-setting and social-learning-theory approaches to task performance. Bandura & Cervone observed that "self-evaluative and selfefficacy mechanisms mediate the effects of goal systems on performance


motivation" (1983, p. 1017). Locke, Latham & Erez (1988) consider both self-efficacy and expectancy of task success to be antecedents of goal commitment, which in turn is a critical requisite for the goal setting effect to occur. Gist (1987) argues that the concept of self-efficacy is one of enormous significance to the domain of organizational behavior and human resource management and that it should receive far more attention than it has received thus far.

In view of the diversity of the application areas of the selfefficacy concept and the robustness of its theoretical foundations, it appears to hold substantial promise with regard to its potential for contributing toward an overarching framework. Even before delving into the intricacies regarding definitional and measurement issues, it appears to be intuitive that the results of studies reviewed earlier indicating the salutary effect of high expectancies on performance are not in contradiction with studies reporting enhanced performance on account of high self-efficacies. Similarly, those studies that have hypothesized or reported high self-esteem to be an antecedent of improved expectancy and performance could also be interpreted as providing complementary evidence for the self-efficacy effect. However, it is not as if that the interrelationships between these constructs are completely clear from their prior treatment in the literature. In particular, Self-Efficacy Theory was often positioned as a rival paradigm to Expectancy Theory (e.g., in Lee 1984). However, a substantial amount of the conflicts (or consonance) depends on the exact manner in which these constructs are interpreted. These issues,


specifically comparisons of self-efficacy with related constructs and the corresponding theoretical and measurement concerns, are explored in the following sub-sections.

Self-Efficacy and Expectancy--Theoretical Issues

Both self-efficacy and expectancy are constructs that invoke

cognitions concerning anticipated performance. It is not surprising, therefore, that there should exist a close correspondence between them. In fact, it should be possible to delineate the relationships between all such concepts involving self-related cognitions (e.g, self-esteem) which have some bearing on behavior.

One problem that arises in the attempt to compare and contrast

such constructs is the fact that often their treatments in the hands of different researchers have been dissimilar. Also, some of them have undergone evolutionary changes ranging from the subtle to the substantial during the course of their existence. As a result, it becomes almost impossible and, to some extent, pointless to venture into a comparative study unless the concepts are formally and strictly defined.

As mentioned before, prior to the refinement proposed by Porter & Lawler (1968), expectancy was regarded as the subjective probability that effort on a task would lead to a given outcome. For this reason, Bandura (1977a & b) refers to this traditional view of expectancy as "outcome expectancy." He argues that self-efficacy, also referred to as "efficacy expectations," is a better predictor of behavior than outcome


expectancy. According to him, individuals may believe that a particular course of action will result in certain outcomes and yet doubt whether they themselves can execute those actions. He represents the differentiation between outcome expectancy and self-efficacy as the difference in the links of the causal path: Person Behavior Outcome. Efficacy expectations refer to the subjective contingency between Per3on and Behavior; while outcome expectancy refers to the subjective contingency between Behavior and Outcome.1

In this respect, self-efficacy bears a striking resemblance to the concept of expectancy I or E-I proposed by Porter & Lawler (1968) and elaborated by Campbell et al. (1970). Since expectancy I refers to the subjective probability that effort will lead to a specific level of performance, the similarity is quite obvious. However, researchers who have noticed this resemblance also emphasize that fundamentally selfefficacy is a more broad-based and inclusive concept than expectancy I (Gist 1987; Locke et al. 1984). For instance, Gist indicates that the definition of self-efficacy "implies that judgements of efficacy depend on more than effort considerations and, thereby, subsume variables not included in El" (1987, p. 477). Also, in most studies, self-efficacy

ILee (1984) attempts to demonstrate empirically that efficacy expectations are superior predictors of performance than outcome expectancy. However, other researchers (Eastman & Marzilllier 1984; Marzilllier & Eastman 1984) have criticized these ideas on grounds that
(1) a task cannot be defined without some reference to outcome, and
(2) outcome expectancy does contribute to future behavior irrespective of whether individuals believe in their competence to perform the task. (See also Bandura's [19841 response to these criticisms).


measures include expectation ratings for a wide range of performance levels; while each expectancy measure corresponds to only one specific performance level.

For the purpose of this study, self-efficacy is regarded as the individual's perceived sense of mastery in a given performance domain, in accordance with Bandurals (1982a) definition. Expectancy, or expectancy of task success, specifically refers to an individual's subjective probability that he or she will achieve a specific level of performance on a given task. Thus, as the characteristics of the task are varied, expectancy of success at the task may also be expected to change. Self-efficacy, on the other hand, is conceptualized as a more global and stable variable whose values remain relatively unaltered over a range of performance levels in a given task domain.

The global aspect Of 3elf-efficacy is embodied in the idea that an individual's perceived sense of mastery in a given performance domain may have generalization effects on similar or related domains of performance. For instance, an athlete who considers himself or herself competent in a particular sporting activity is likely to transfer (or generalize) some of that sense of competence to related or similar sporting activities. This generalization effect would nevertheless be dependent upon how similar the performance domains (across which the transfer effect occurs) are perceived to be; or how performance domains are demarcated. The more similar the different performance domains are perceived, the greater will be the generalization effect. Also, if two activities with highly similar physical characteristics are classified


as belonging to separate performance domains, then the generalization effect across those domains will also be large.

Self-efficacy is also a relatively enduring variable. Individuals develop impressions of personal efficacies over a period of time through several sources of information, included among which are inactive mastery (i.e., sense of accomplishments derived from actual successful participation in an activity), vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and emotional arousal (Bandura 1977a & b, 1982b; Bandura, Adams & Beyer 1977; Gist 1987). Impressions of efficacy are, therefore, composite indices of individuals' sense of competence. In contrast, expectancy of task success is directly related to how difficult the task (and the assigned level of performance or goal) is perceived to be. Manipulating expectancy is possible by varying the characteristics of the task. Self-efficacy, on the other hand, may be altered only by changing the individual's overall impression of his or her general capabilities in the performance domain in question. The idea that self-efficacy is relatively enduring should not however be construed to imply that it is impervious to change. Also, unlike personality variables, it is not an inherent property of the individual that has little or no susceptibility to external influences. As Bandura emphasizes, 11seif-referent thought is indexed in terms of particularized self-percepts of efficacy that can vary across activities and situational circumstances rather than as a global disposition assayed by an omnibus test" (1982, p. 124).


Self-Efficacy and Expectancy--Measurement Issues

Traditionally, expectancy measures have been obtained by having subjects report probability estimates of their attaining an outcome (or the achieving of a performance level, in the case of E-I) in the context of a task. For instance, if a respondent reported that he or she estimated his or her chances of attaining a given performance level was 70%, then expectancy (E-I) was considered to be 0.7. This method of measuring expectancy is consistent with the way in which the construct has been defined in this study.

In the case of the measurement of self-efficacy, the issue is not as simple. Efficacy has also been measured using probability estimates or composites of probability estimates (Bandura 1980; Bandura & Adams 1977; Bandura & Cervone 1983; Bandura & Schunk 1981; Bandura, Adams & Beyer 1977); as well as mean responses on specially constructed scales (Barling & Beattie 1983; DiClemente, Prochaska & Gibertini 1985; Glynn & Ruderman 1986; McAuley & Gill 1983). It is my contention that the typical measures of self-efficacy utilized by Bandura and his associates capture only a narrow aspect of the self-efficacy construct.

Consider, for example, a study by Bandura & Cervone (1983) in

which self-efficacy was measured by having the subjects rate how certain they were about attaining each of the several goal levels on 100-point scales. That is, although each of the respondents were assigned only one particular goal level, their estimates of the probabilities of goal attainments were obtained for several other performance levels which were not assigned to them. This measure of self-efficacy is no


different than a measure of expectancy with the exception that selfefficacy was measured with respect to a ranae of performance levels in addition to the assigned goal level. In other words, self-efficacy is measured merely as a composite of expectancy scores or sometimes as a mean of all the expectancy estimates measured.

These composite expectancy scores (or means of scores) are likely to be higher for those high in self-efficacy (on account of the reasons mentioned as follows) and therefore their use as surrogates for selfefficacy should not have caused inconsistent results. Goal theory predictions would suggest that expectancies of task success diminish as goals are made more difficult. Therefore, measures of expectancies for a series of goals of increasing difficulty should generate downward sloping curves (for all individuals). However, individuals with high self-efficacies are likely to have downward sloping curves that have larger intercepts and, perhaps, less negative slopes (i.e., less steep slopes) in comparison with those low in self-efficacy.

In spite of the fact that there is probably no real danger of

obtaining inconsistent results on account of measuring self-efficacy as described, the question is one of construct validity. It has been reiterated on several occasions that the self-efficacy construct subsumes many more facets of the behavioral phenomena than expectancy does (Gist 1987). Bandura emphasizes that the focal interest of SelfEfficacy Theory is "the dynamic interplay among self-referent thought, action, and affect" (1982a, p. 124). This construct is thought to account for phenomena as varied as coping behavior produced by different


modes of influence, level of psychological stress reactions, selfregulation of refractory behavior, resignation and despondendency to failure experiences, among others (Bandura 1982a). The measurement of a construct as broad-based as this ought not to be limited merely to expectancy ratings.

I contend that measures of self-efficacy should incorporate

specially constructed scales that tap into the individual's composite impression of his or her capability in the task domain in question. The conceptual model in the following chapter espouses the idea that nomologically self-efficacy may be an antecedent of composite or mean expectancy scores (and proposes exactly that in a later section of this report); and, therefore, expectancy measures may, if required, be used as manipulation checks for self-efficacy (as has been done in Weinberg, Gould & Jackson 1979).

Bandura acknowledges that "self-efficacy scales vary in their

structure depending upon the domain of functioning and the specificity with which it is being examined" (1984, p. 241). Several researchers have consequently developed scales specific to their area of inquiry and some have even tested the validity of the scales constructed specifically to assess self-efficacy within a given performance domain (e.g., Glynn & Ruderman 1986).

In sum, then, self-efficacy is a construct that is conceptually

distinct from expectancy. It also subsumes the expectancy variable and, therefore, previous attempts to measure self-efficacy by expectancy


scores over a performance range have generated results not inconsistent with theory.

Self-Efficacy and Self-Estee

There exist studies in the area of salespeople's motivation which indicate that self-esteem is often a valid antecedent of expectancy. The interrelationship between these two constructs and self-efficacy may be viewed as a hierarchical progression of antecedents, in which selfesteem is the most broad-based which subsumes both self-efficacy and expectancy; while self-efficacy is the second in line and is an antecedent of expectancy. Schematically, this can be represented as: Self-esteem > Self-efficacy > Expectancy.

This schematic representation only suggests the ordering in terms of the direction of influence so far as these three variables are concerned. It is not implied in any way that this represents a complete picture with regard to all possible antecedents that either expectancy or seif-efficacy can have. The idea expressed in this representation is that self-esteem is the broadest of the three variables in question; and it is imaginable that an individual with high self-esteem may have an elevated sense of efficacy compared with an individual low in selfesteem. In other words, it is proposed that previous studies that have demonstrated positive effects of self-esteem on expectancy are not only consistent with this scheme but can also be interpreted in its light.



This chapter describes a conceptual model that integrates previous research on the overall goal setting phenomenon. The model identifies relevant motivational mechanisms that intervene in the effect of an externally set goal on performance. By providing an overarching theoretical framework, the model accounts for the putatively conflicting viewpoints of different research traditions that were examined in the previous chapter. Additionally, it generates theoretical propositions concerning different effects of goal setting. This chapter describes the conceptual model and develops the set of propositions. In the next chapter, the methodology to be employed for testing a select group of these research propositions is discussed.

The following section of this chapter briefly reviews some of the earlier attempts to account for or explain the goal setting effect. In the process, the necessity of developing a more complete, conceptually oriented framework is highlighted.

For the purpose of clarity and also because of the opportunity it provides for detailed examination of the several aspects involved in goal setting, the conceptual model will be described in a number of progressive stages. In a subsequent section, this scheme is described



more fully and its advantages are outlined. Finally, the different aspects of the model are discussed and integrated.

Objectives of the.Model

As mentioned in Chapter 2, despite the proliferation of studies

that have attempted to demonstrate the enhanced effects of difficult and specific goals on performance, theoretical inquiries into the mechanism responsible for the phenomenon have been rare.

Locke's earlier studies (1966, 1968) suggested that difficult goals are responsible for generating and elevating behavioral intentions. Intention to perform, in turn, contributes to actual performance. Although, there has been some discussion concerning identification and acceptance of goals in terms of cognitions and evaluations, the goal-intention-performance link was viewed as adequate "explanation" for the Goal Theory propositions.

For example, Locke & Latham (1984) refer to goal setting as a technique. In their opinion, the following "causes" or reasons are responsible for the fact that the technique produces its intended results: 1) specific goals direct action more reliably than vague or general goals, 2) goal specificity results in clear expectations, and 3) the harder or more challenging the goal, the better the performance. The preceding rationale is somewhat tautological since there exists an obvious confound between what is being explained and that which is being used to explain it.

However, Locke et al. (1981) do mention that they view goal

setting as primarily a motivational mechanism that necessarily involves


cognitive elements as well. They suggest that "the goal setting mechanisms" involve the following: 1) goals direct attention, 2) goals mobilize effort, 3) goals induce persistence in effort, and 4) goals motivate strategy development.

The studies previously reviewed and cited in this chapter do not follow a systematic method in providing a conceptual explanation of the goal setting phenomenon, because researchers in this tradition have focussed on the identification of the correlates and the epiphenomena associated with the goal setting effect rather than on conceptual explanation. Consequently, in their attempts at describing the effect, these researchers have amassed a large number of variables associated with the goal setting effect. However, attempts at orderly structuring of the theoretical explanation of the phenomenon fall far short of their impressive record of empirical studies.

One of the objectives of this conceptual framework is to examine and account for the goal setting effect and related phenomena in terms of the intervening cognitive and motivational processes in a systematic manner. While the previous research has focussed mainly on describing how the goal setting effect works, this model predominantly inquires into why the effects occur as they do, and the conditions under which they are likely to change.

Scheme Adonted for Describincr the Conceptual Model

As a brief and somewhat simplified introduction, the integrated model suggests that externally set goals affect performance through several intervening variables and multiple pathways. The ultimate


impact on performance is contingent upon the interactive effects of factors that moderate the relative strengths and direction of the pathways.

As can be expected, externally set goals affect performance in multiple ways and combine with other factors in the process. My exposition of the goal setting effect, however, will initially consider only the "primary effects" in isolation and later explore the relevant interactive effects. In other words, I will begin to examine why increasing externally set goals improves performance, without considerations of any other situational factors, such as rewards, task structure, etc., or any inter-individual differences.

The development of the framework begins with a reexamination of the goal setting effect--the phenomenon of more difficult goals contributing to better performance. The rest of the model is built around this central "pathway" or route.

The following section contains a detailed description of the

mechanisms involved in this central link, referred to as the Extended Compliance Path.

The Extended Compliance Path

Overview of the Path

This pathway (as one of the several through which such effects may occur) suggests that the level of externally assigned performance target corresponds to a cognitive encoding of the external goal by the individual to whom the task is assigned. This internal representation of the goal influences his/her intention to perform at the assigned


task. The effect on intention to perform is carried over to the actual resources expended by the individual and that, in turn, contributes to performance. This extended compliance pathway is schematically represented in Figure 3.1.

EExte ra ll Internal __ I en on Resoufrce s
Se oly Representation Inentionm" to Expende
etGa1of Goal L...........

Figure 3.1: The Extended Compliance Path Cognitive Representation of Goal

Externally assigned goals are necessarily exogenous variables in so far as they are manipulated and varied in an environment external to the individual's cognitive system. Also, the level of the goals can be quantitatively measured (in terms of physical units) without any reference to the internal system. It is proposed that when a task is presented to a task performer, the individual in question forms a composite impression of the task from all the information regarding the task that is available to him or her. one very important piece of information that is utilized by the individual in forming a cognitive representation of the task is the actual level of the assigned goal. The internal representation of the tas is, in a sense, a cognitive mapping of the actual task presented to the individual.

Similarly, the actual level of the g-aj assigned can be viewed as influencing an internal representation of the task goal. it can also be


thought of as being "assigned" a certain value along a (cognitive) dimension of the task which represents goal difficulty or level of goal. It is not only unnecessary for this study but also beyond its scope to inquire into the detailed architecture of such a cognitive structure. It suffices to mention, however, that if external goals influence intentions, then they must also be "encoded" cognitively at some level before they can influence intentions or performance

This encoded or internal representation of goal can be thought of as an individual's understanding of what the goal level stands for at a general level. That is, this primary encoded representation takes place even before the person's own ability concerns are considered and is only a general mapping of the external goal in the abstract. Individuals may be visualized as being able to appreciate the implications of different levels of goals even for a task that they will never personally confront. The abstract appreciation that increasing goal levels at any task generally corresponds with increased effort requirements on part of the task performer is a manifestation of internal representations of goals at the global or general level. This is not to say that people ordinarily do not factor in ability concerns for tasks that they will or will not confront--they probably always do. But the mechanism being proposed here suggests that evaluation of the task or goal difficulty in

1The scheme adopted here pursues an "encoding-processing-output"
orientation toward analyzing information processing issues. This is not only conducive toward analyzing motivational mechanisms that have behavioral manifestations but is also consistent with a large body of literature that adopts this model.


relation to self-appraised ability occurs subsequent to a relatively primary encoding of the goal. In other words, an individual's response to a task goal is contingent upon how the goal itself is encoded at a general level as well as other factors including cognitions about the self. It is theoretically important to study each of these separate effects in isolation (as different links of the entire model) in order to obtain a clear picture.

Proposition 1: The level of performance goal assigned to an individual in the context of a task is encoded internally, such that the actual or physical level of the goal (measured in quantitative terms) corresponds to the internal representation of goal. The preceding idea is schematically expressed in Figure 3.1 by the link between the "level of externally set goal" and "internal representation of goal."

Effect on Intention--The Comnliance Mechanis

One of the ideas expressed explicitly by Locke (1966, 1968) is

that individuals respond to external goals by raising their intentions to perform as long as the goals are accepted. He indicates that difficult goals hold more "challenge" for the participants but does not extend or develop this concept any further. The notion of challenge associated with difficult goals involves considerations of intrinsic rewards. Such matters will be addressed and integrated with the model in a later section. It requires to be mentioned, however, that apart from the effects of "challenge" there may exist other mechanisms through which the primary goal setting effect can take place.


It is significant that the response of subjects to performance targets even in very simple and unexciting tasks have consistently supported the Goal Theory postulates in several studies. The earliest and some of the simplest applications of goal setting involve experiments in which subjects were asked to perform at a certain level in a simple motor task (e.g, Eason 1963; Eason & White; 1961) or a paper and pencil task involving simple arithmetic (e.g., Mace 1935) or a task such as listing of words (Locke 1966). The subjects' actual performances were found to correspond closely with the assigned goals.

It is difficult at times, if not impossible, to extract any sense of how a difference between two goal levels in a very dreary task could generate so much "challenge" that it could account for the entire effect. It is the existence of the goal setting effect in these tasks, however, that lend an indication or clue regarding one mechanism by which goals affect performance.

An important aspect of social behavior that is of interest in this context is that the subjects in these studies seem to respond "adaptively" to whatever the task demands are (within a reasonable limit) and try to comply with that which is asked of them. This idea is also evident in Locke's concern that goal setting results may appear "obvious" in some cases since "the subjects were presumably doing what they were told" (1966, p. 62). It is proposed here that (in addition to the other pathways through which goals may affect performance) some of the results seen in goal setting studies owe much to what can be termed as the "compliance effect." This effect describes the phenomenon in which individuals redirect their intentions and efforts and modify their


intended responses to match the changing requirements of the task (within certain bounds).

Although by no means a depiction of the entire range of motivated behavior, this idea finds support in the work of Feldman and Lynch (1988) who propose that behavior is at least partially "mindless" in the sense that much day-to-day action occurs without deliberate intent and without awareness of controlling factors. As an example, these authors suggest that it is unlikely that people choose to attend work every day after consciously evaluating the advantages of doing so. They respond without deliberating at any length to what they perceive as certai-n environmental demands as they become aware of them.1 Proposition 2: The individual's internal representation of goal has a direct positive effect on the his/her intention to perform; individuals modify their behavior simply in response to the task requirements--the goal level, in this case.

The details regarding the conditions under which the preceding statement will (or will not) be valid shall be amplified later. The preceding proposition embodies the compliance mechanism and is depicted schematically in Figure 3.1 by the link between "internal representation of goal" and the "intention to perform."

1This does not imply, however, that this behavior is "irrational" or unusual in any other way. Exploration of the origins of such behavioral habits can reveal their underlying causes or reasons. At a molar level, however, the effect is analogous to pure compliance with an external task requirement.


Effect of Intention on Performance

The effect of intention on performance is relatively

straightforward and is analogous to the effect of behavioral intention on behavior. In our model, however, "intention to perform" and actual performance is spanned by another behavioral indicator--resources expended (see Figure 3.1). Resources include the effort that is expended by the individual. This effort is the behavioral manifestation of "intention to perform"--the composite cognitive factor that summarizes the multiple effects of goals. In addition to actual effort, resources may include cognitive activities such as planning. Although this thesis focuses more attention on the effort expended (as a consequence of intention and antecedent of performance), inclusion of more strategic aspects of output performance in the model lends it a higher degree of generality. Besides, behavioral manifestations may be thought of as consisting of both magnitude and direction components. Finally, a recent goal setting study (Early, Wojnaroski & Prest 1987) has identified strategy development as an intervening variable that may aid in our understanding of the relevant processes.

The rationale for introducing "resources expended" as an additional intervening variable is that the relationship between intention and performance is also subject to certain moderating influences (to be discussed later). Proposition 3: Intention to perform in the context of a task directly influences the resources (effort and strategic planning) expended by the individual. Proposition 4: Resources actually expended by the individual in the context of a task contributes directly to the level of performance achieved in the task.


The preceding propositions are represented in Figure 3.1 by the links between "Intention to perform." "Actual resources expended," and "Performance."

Figure 3.1 is a schematic summary of all of the four preceding propositions and represents the Extended Compliance Path in its entirety.

Moderating Influences on the Extended ComT)liance Path

As has been indicated earlier, the level of externally set goal affects performance through multiple and interactive mechanisms. Accordingly, we may expect that there will exist a number of moderating influence on the Extended Compliance Path described in the preceding section and represented in Figure 3.1.

Included among the important moderators of the Extended Compliance Pathway are Goal Specificity, Perceived Extrinsic Rewards, and Expectancy. In this section, the influences of these moderators on the central pathway are elaborated by specifying how these moderators interact with and modify the Extended Compliance Mechanism. Two of the three aforementioned moderators, viz., "extrinsic rewards" and "expectancy." may themselves be contingent upon the externally set goal under special circumstances. Following sections of this chapter address the Extrinsic Reward Pathway and the Goal-Expectancy Pathway in their entireties.


Effect of Goal Specificity

Goal Theory propositions suggest that specific goals are more conducive to generating superior performance in comparison with vague goals. Locke and his associates refer to goals that are described in concrete, quantitative terms as specific goals; while performance goals conveyed to task performers by such advice as "do your best" have been referred to as vague goals (Locke 1968; Locke et al. 1981). Locke's postulates suggest that goals that are both specific and difficult at the same time are more effective than easy or vague goals with regard to the level of performance generated. However, these vague goals (or "doyour-best goals") may often result in higher performance than what can be achieved by moderate or easy externally set goals (Locke, Mento & Katcher 1978).

The effect of "do-your-best" goals relative to specific goals can be best understood in terms of the compliance mechanism and the internal representation of goal. The compliance mechanism suggests that individuals tend to adapt their intended efforts to match their perception of the task goals. It is proposed that recommendations to task performers to "do their best" convey to them the impression that they have some amount of freedom in choosing or shaping the task goal. It is more than likely that the subjects pick up signals regarding the importance of the task in general and the task goal in particular and respond to the overall message rather than interpret the assignment in literal terms. In so far as the semantics and connotations of the phrase "do your best" diverge from its implications when examined word by word, a goal associated with such a description lacks specificity.


The preceding argument reiterates the idea that the internal

representation of goal difficulty is contingent upon the information available with regard to the task goal. If the cues associated with the task goal contain conflicting information or unintended messages, then the task performers' encoding of the task will be affected correspondingly. To the person who assigns the task, however, it will appear to be an anomalous case.

Locke's treatment of goal specificity concerned only the

difference between difficult, quantitatively-stated performance goals and "do-your-best" goals. As we can see, the notion of specificity (or clarity) may be of importance even beyond this particular issue. For instance, it is a matter of conjecture as to which of the two goal conditions between a very easy, specific goal and the assignment "perform at your minimum level" would actually result in the lower performance. It is likely that the task performers will interpret the phrase "perform at your minimum level" in a similar fashion. They could decipher it as an indication for them to work at a relaxed pace but within some acceptable limits (that they may set for themselves or perceive others to have set for them). It may be hypothesized that in such a situation the task performers will not perform at zero level (the physical minimum possible) which is what the task goal literally connotes.

A practical implication of this observation is that even when goal levels are communicated to subjects in quantitative terms but are in complex forms (e.g, as in such descriptions as "within one standard deviation of the mean of previous trials" or "at the 80 percentile level


or higher") or in broad terms (such as "significant improvement over previous attempts"), it will contribute to an attenuation of the goal setting effect and result in a greater variability of the internal representation of goal among the respondents.

The advantage of describing the task goal in specific terms (over describing it in vague or general terms) roughly corresponds to the superior effect of assigning a task in conjunction with a performance goal relative to assigning it without explicit performance targets. In the first case, the task goal contains more descriptive information that aids in the formation of a more coherent internal representation. In the second case, a more complete cognitive mapping of the task is possible. This is also in accordance with another related aspect of task goals elaborated in the following paragraph.

Task difficulty is believed to influence the amount of attention allocated by the individual (Kahneman 1973). In so far as the tasks described in terms of performance goals are allocated more attention by the task performers (and as long as difficult goals tend to command more attention), task goals or performance targets may be thought of as possessing attention enhancing properties. Enhanced attention, in turn, aids in the individuals' development of the intention to perform and consequent performance.

It stands to reason then, goal specificity may interact with the effect of externally set goal as suggested by the following proposition. Proposition 5: Goal specificity (or clarity of assigned goal) moderates the relationship between externally set goal level and the internal representation of goal as follows. The effect of externally set goal on its


internal representation is stronger when goal specificity is high than when goal specificity is low. Figure 3.2 depicts the interaction schematically.

Externally Internal Intention to Resources Perfonnance
Set Goal Representation Perfon-n Expended
of GoalGoal

Figure 3.2: The Moderating Effect of Goal Specificity Effect of Extrinsic Rewards

For the purpose of this model, rewards are defined as consequences of task accomplishment that are evaluated positively (and, consequently, desired) by the task performer. Extrinsic rewards are those which are administered and controlled by an agent external to the individual and are contingent in some manner upon the evaluation of the performance by that (or another external) agent.

Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, refer to the satisfaction or enjoyment derived from actual participation in the task itself. They are predominantly contingent upon the interaction of the task characteristics and the characteristics of the task performer rather than an external agent.1

1The supervisor of a task (as an external agent) does possess some power to alter task characteristics which may indirectly influence


Tasks that have absolutely no extrinsic or intrinsic rewards

associated with them are not only rare but can exist only as theoretical abstractions. Usually, some form of extrinsic reward, however subtle, accompanies almost all task assignments. These rewards may not be tangible but will still qualify as extrinsic rewards as long as the recipient is dependent upon another person's evaluation and discretion in order to obtain it. Examples of intancrible extrinsic rewards may include social approval, admiration, praise, respect, etc.

By definition, extrinsic rewards are those that are in some way tied to an evaluation of the task performance by an external agent, usually the same person or agent that assigns the task. For tasks that are assigned in terms of performance targets, attempts at realizing external rewards involves responding actively to the assigned goal level. Consequently, extrinsic rewards are likely to boost the effect of the compliance mechanism. The following proposition expresses this idea more formally.

Proposition 6: Perceived extrinsic rewards moderate the compliance mechanism as follows: high levels of perceived extrinsic rewards result in stronger positive effects of internal representation of goal on intention to perform than low levels of extrinsic rewards. Figure 3.3 is a schematic representation of the moderating effect of perceived extrinsic rewards on the compliance mechanism.

intrinsic rewards. Their administration and control, however, are unlikely to be related to evaluation of performance.



Externally Internal Intention to Resources Performance
Set Goal -00" Representation Perform Expended
of Goal

Figure 3.3: The moderating Effect of Extrinsic Rewards

Figure 3.4 depicts a hypothetical interaction of Internal goal

representation and Perceived extrinsic rewards on Intention to perform.

Intention to Extrinsic perform Rewards LOW
Extrinsic Rewards Internal representation of goal difficulty

Figure 3.4: An Example of a Hypothetical Interaction Between Internal Goal Representation and Perceived Extrinsic Rewards

An important feature of the preceding interaction is that when external rewards are the only source of rewards, at the same time, the level of perceived external rewards are held at zero, the compliance effect will vanish. That is, in the absence of any reward whatsoever,


the motivation to comply in response to increasing goals will be nonexistent.1

Similarly, when the externally assigned goal is set at zero, increased perceived extrinsic rewards should not raise intention to perform. The preceding scenario corresponds to a situation in which (increasing) extrinsic rewards are perceived to be conditional upon a zero level of target performance; i.e., the extrinsic rewards are perceived to be free. Since, no performance is requested of the individual in exchange for the external rewards, no intention (for performing a task) will be evoked.

The Extended Compliance mechanism described earlier and depicted in Figure 3.1 (and embodied in propositions 1 through 4) implicitly assumes a fixed, finite level of perceived extrinsic rewards.

Rerceiption of extrinsic rewards. It requires to be emphasized at this point that it is the perception of extrinsic reward (rather than the actual reward) that matters so far as the preceding moderating influences are concerned. Undoubtedly, the actual external reward level--an operational variable--strongly influences how it will be perceived. Nevertheless, factors such as individual characteristics and message factors (involved in communicating and administering the reward) are likely to interact with (i.e., moderate) this relationship.

lFor the purpose of making a point, it is assumed that in this case there exists no intrinsic rewards either. Also, the threats of punishments (which may be considered to be analogous to negative rewards) for noncompliance are ignored.


For instance, those high in need for achievement (n-Achievement)

or need for affiliation (n-Affiliation) are likely to perceive

intangible extrinsic rewards (such as praise, admiration, etc.) to be

more positively valenced than those who are low in these needs. The

rationale for this argument is that the intangible rewards usually cater

to the needs associated with the self-system: the higher the need in the

self-system, the higher will be its value to the individual. (The

economic analogy of higher demand contributing to higher price is


Self-esteem is likely to moderate the perception of intangible

(self-related) extrinsic rewards for similar reasons. Those high in

self-esteem are likely to have less use or inclination for externally

administered positive evaluations of their self-systems.

Proposition 7: Both individual and reward characteristics moderate how external rewards will be perceived by the task performer (to whom the reward is administered).

Proposition 7a: The individual's perception (or evaluation) of the externally administered rewards will be moderated by certain individual characteristics as follows:
(i) intangible extrinsic rewards will tend to be more positively evaluated by those who are high in n-Achievement and n-Affiliation than those who are low in these needs;
(ii) those high in self-esteem will evaluate intangible extrinsic rewards les positively than those low in self-esteem.

Proposition 7b: Individual differences (such as differential preferences for different kinds of external tangible rewards) will moderate the perception of external tangible rewards.

Proposition 7c: Message characteristics (that highlight or underplay the importance of different features of extrinsic rewards) will also moderate the relationship between the externally administered reward (both tangible and intangible) and its perception.



Actual Characteristi I Perceived
External Rewards Extrinsic Rewards

Message and

Figure 3.5: Moderating Influences on Perceived Extrinsic Rewards

Effect of Ex]2ectancy

Expectancy, the subjective probability of success at a task, has been found to exert a strong impact on individuals' motivation for behavior under a wide array of circumstances. According to Garland (1984), expectancy models predict that, all things being equal, expectancy will positively influence performance. That is, if two task situations are identical in all respects except for the individual's expectancy estimate, then the individual will be motivated to perform at a higher level for the task associated with the higher expectancy. it is proposed that the compliance mechanism (which suggests that task performers tend to match their intended performance levels to their perception of the externally assigned goal) will also be moderated by expectancy in a similar fashion. If the individual perceives his or her chances of succeeding at a task (i.e., achieving the assigned goal) to be high then it may be argued that he/she will be more strongly motivated to comply than when the subjective expectancy estimates are low. In fact, if the expectancy of task success is extremely low (i.e.,


for task goals that are perceived to be near impossible to accomplish), increasing the level of goal difficulty may detract from the individuals motivation to comply.

The preceding argument embodies the assumption that individuals do not comply "mindlessly" for all tasks or all levels of difficulty at routine tasks. They may be expected to comply with assignments only for those tasks and goal levels with which they are familiar and in which they perceive to have acceptably high levels of expectancies. This underlying expectancy (that affects compliance) may have been acquired over repeated exposures to the task situations or may have been deliberately evaluated during the initial exposures to the task. For unfamiliar tasks or for a goal level in a familiar task that is already high, raising the goal level further may detract from the motivation to comply. In such situations, the compliance route is likely to reverse its nature and acquire the property of a "rejection mechanism." That is, when expectancy is low, raising externally set goal levels will not contribute to increased intention to perform, and may even actually lower such intentions.

Proposition 8: Expectancy of task success moderates the influence of internal representation of goal on intention to perform as follows. At high expectancies, higher levels of internal representation of goal contribute Positively to intention to perform; while at lower levels that contribution is attenuated. At very low expectancy levels, the internal representation of goal may either have no influence on intended performance or may affect it negatively.


Externally Internal Itnint e
Set oalRepresentation Itnono Reources ac
SetGoa of Goal /efr Expended L~


Figure 3.6: Schematic Representation of the Moderating Influence of Expectancy

Intenton to High Expectancy perform ,:
Uodtrte xectancy

-'Low Expectancy

Internal representation
of goal difficulty

Figure 3.7: An Example of Interaction Between External Goal and Expectancy of Task Sucess

External Goal Level and Perceived Extrinsic Rewards

A very important characteristic of the salesperson's performance domain is that compensation is often tied to the performance level. Sales and Marketing Management (1986) reports that over 90% of firms selling consumer products and over 85% of firms selling industrial products employ compensation plans that are contingent upon performance in some manner. In such plans, performance levels are rewarded in the


form of higher total compensation packages. Under such circumstances, higher levels of externally set performance goals would undoubtedly contribute to higher "perceived extrinsic rewards." This may be represented schematically in Figure 3.3 by drawing a link between "externally set goal" and "perceived extrinsic rewards."

When the external rewards are designed to increase with the target performance level in this manner, it contributes to an accelerated effect on the goal setting phenomenon. Increasing externally set goal levels in this case not only raises performance through the direct compliance route, higher target performance levels also result in the raising of perceived extrinsic rewards, which further bolster the aforementioned effect. The widespread use of commissions as a motivational tool used by sales managers is consistent with this observation. A fuller exploration of this pathway, however reveals some important considerations and mediating factors that have significant implications for the proper use of this motivational tool. Types of Contingent Compensation Plans

The actual compensation plan that a firm may decide to employ could be chosen from an infinite number of potential plans, each of which is contingent upon the performance dimensions in a different way. At one end of the range, an organization may choose a compensation plan that involves "straight salary"--a payment scheme in which the compensation is unrelated to sales performance (except in the context of long run evaluation and promotion). At the other extreme, "straight commissions" are those schemes in which compensation is entirely


dependent upon sales performance. In mixed compensation plans, salary refers to the fixed part of the compensation (which is unrelated to short-term sales performance), while commissions refer to the amount earned directly as a result of the sales performance for the term.

In addition to salary and commission, a compensation plan may also consist of a "bonus." While both commission and bonus are dependent upon sales performance, there are some important differences between them. Commissions are paid as an amount that correlates directly with the performance level achieved on some set of measures (e.g, sales volume, dollar sales, or profit margin) on a predetermined basis and are usually administered monthly. A bonus, on the other hand, is a discretionary payment for achieving a level of performance and is usually paid annually. While mixed plans consisting of both salary and commission are more common than both straight salaries and straight commissions, the most common combination plan includes salary, commission, and bonus (Dalrymple 1988, p. 385).

Sales organizations may also offer the salesperson the chance to purchase stock in the company at some future date at a preset price-usually lower than the prevailing market value--in order to retain exceptional salespeople (Anderson, Hair & Bush 1988). Such stock options, often referred to as "golden handcuffs," and similar payment schemes (e.g, "drawing accounts") exemplify the complexity that contingent payment schemes may -involve.

The criteria upon which sales performance is evaluated for the

purpose of determining performance-contingent compensation may also take one of several forms, some of which are more complex than others. Such


criteria may involve one or more performance dimensions. Among those dimensions that are frequently used as criteria for computing contingent payment, the most common indices include dollar sales, unit sales (or quantity sold), profit margin achieved, number of sales call made, number of new accounts created, number of existing accounts serviced, and so forth. Most often, a combination of more than one of these indices are used with different weights attached to different criteria. In addition, when salespeople are responsible for more than one product line, different products may contribute differentially toward the individual's overall performance index, with a different set of criteria and weights used for each of the products. Again, to complicate matters further, additional differences may be involved across territories, seasons and markets.

The preceding observations serve to justify the proposition that the relationship between target performance levels and perceived extrinsic rewards may be impeded by the difficulty involved in forming an impression of how clearly or strongly external rewards correlate with difficulty of goals. This is an important factor in the context of administration of performance-contingent compensation plans. it suggests that it is more effective to incorporate a reward structure that is perceived to be clearly related to (i.e., contingent upon) target performance rather than introduce complex compensation schemes in which the reward-performance contingencies are actually high, but are not perceived as such. Propositions 9 and 10 summarize these concepts. Proposition 9: In sales organization settings that incorporate performance-contingent compensation, higher levels of externally set performance targets contribute to


increased perceived extrinsic rewards and contribute toward enhancing the goal setting effect. Proposition 10: The characteristics of the compensation plan moderate the relationship between external goal and perceived extrinsic rewards as follows:
(a) compensation plans involving a higher proportion of commissions (in the mix of commissions, salaries, and bonuses) result in stronger relationship between external goals and perceived extrinsic rewards;
(b) complexity of contingent payment schemes attenuate the relation between external goals and perceived extrinsic rewards.

Figure 3.8 schematically depicts the pathway between "external goal level" and "perceived extrinsic rewards" and the moderating effect of the contingency plan upon it.

Contingency of
Payment Scheme

100- Extrinsic

Figure 3.8: The Extrinsic Reward Pathway and the Moderating Effect of Contingent Payment Plan

External Goal and Intancrible Extrinsic Rewards

Although the preceding sub-section inquiring into the issues concerning tangible rewards (embodied by financial compensation) addresses a crucial aspect of sales performance and motivation, the effect of intangible rewards on motivation in the sales force cannot be overlooked. In a survey of 121 senior sales executives, overall financial compensation was rated as only the sixth most effective of 17 types of rewards for motivating salespeople (Miller 1979). This study


found "special recognition" for outstanding performance to be the topranked motivator and "encouragement and contact of supervisor" to be ranked third.

In sales organizations, such forms of rewards may take various

forms ranging from the subtle to the ostentatious and are often referred to as "recognition awards." Examples of these include trophies, wall plaques, bestowal of titles, e.g, "Salesperson of the Month"--a favorite of car dealers and real estate firms, publicity in house organs, congratulations (verbal and written) by senior executives, gifts for spouses of outstanding salespeople, memberships in honoraria such as "Super Salesperson Club," and so forth. Haring & Morris (1968) report that 90% of firms use honor awards and consider their effectiveness in motivating salespeople to range from "good" to "excellent."

The common features that these rewards share with the previously enumerated financial rewards is that they are administered and controlled by the salesperson's supervisors and are contingent upon evaluations of the salesperson's performance.

It is proposed that since high (or effective) levels of sales performance are almost universally desired by all sales supervisors, some form of perceived encouragement--however subtle--is associated with the reaching of high goal levels. Simple acknowledgements by supervisors of the salesperson's success in achieving set quotas may be sufficient for creating that perception. Also, individuals may assume, sometimes even below a conscious level, that high performance and achieving difficult performance goals inexorably portend recognition or praise by co-workers and supervisors.


Proposition 11: High levels of performance targets are direct antecedents of high levels of perceived intangible extrinsic rewards.

Moderating Influences on Intangible Rewards

It has been proposed earlier that administrative factors

(associated with the contingent payment scheme) may moderate the effect of external goal on perceived financial rewards. Similarly, administration factors may moderate the relationship between goal level and perceived intangible extrinsic rewards.

Some firms actively pursue a policy of creating an organizational climate that is conducive to providing salespeople with encouragement and support. Several companies firmly believe that their "organizational culture" will contribute toward creating a work environment characterized by a high general level of awareness of the accomplishments of salespeople and other employees. It is believed that such a culture motivates employees to perform more effectively (Kelley 1986; Templeton 1986). In other words, organizational culture is an administrational factor that may have a moderating influence in the context of intangible extrinsic rewards. Proposition 12: organizational culture moderates the relationship between external goal and perceived intangible extrinsic rewards as follows. For salespeople in firms with supportive organizational climates, the relationship between performance targets and perceived intangible extrinsic rewards will be stronger than for salespeople in organizations that do not have such climates.

Figure 3.9 is a schematic representation of the moderating effect of organizational culture on perceived extrinsic rewards.



00 Extrinsic

Figure 3.9: The moderating Effect of Organizational Characteristics on Perceived Extrinsic Rewards

The Goal-Exoectancy Pathway

The preceding sub-section and the schematic representation in Figure 3.6 suggest that the external goal level and expectancy of success at the task are independent constructs that may contribute separately toward ultimate performance. while this presentation is useful for the purpose of elucidating the moderating effect of expectancy, the complete role played by the expectancy variable in the proposed model is somewhat more complex.

As discussed in Chapter 2, several studies have recognized that

there exists an inverse relationship between the level of external goal and the expectancy of task success. This suggests that the individual task performer recognizes that difficult goals imply that his or her probability of success at the task will be lower.

A careful examination of the preceding implication reveals that individuals must somehow factor in their personal capabilities before they can arrive at estimates of expectancy of task success. For the purpose of our analysis, we may consider an individual's abstract representation of the assigned goal to be the primary antecedent of


his/her interpretation of what the goal level means in personal terms. That is, after the assigned goal has been encoded at the general (and impersonal) level, this encoding is further processed with reference to the task performer's self-system; especially when the individual is confronted with the task.

The higher the level of the internally represented goal, the

higher will be the task performer's estimate of difficulty of the goal with regard to personal standards. The personalized estimate of goal difficulty may be represented in terms of how much personal resources (effort and planning) would be demanded by the goal level associated with the task. That is, the "cognitive calibration" of the personalized estimate of goal difficulty occurs in terms of the level of effort and planning that the goal level imputes. Higher requirements of personal resources would then indicate lower expectancies of task success.

The preceding idea embodies the "limited processing capability" view of the individual's cognitive system. If the goal difficulty is increased, then it cannot be functional for the individual to respond in any way other than to associate with it a lowered probability of task success.

Proposition 13: Increased levels of internal representation of goal contribute to higher levels of the representation of the goal in personal terms, i.e., in terms of the level of personal resources that will be required to accomplish the goal.

Proposition 14: The relationship between the level of personal resources required and the expectancy of task success is negative: higher estimates of personal resources required contribute to lowered expectancies.


As a subjective estimate of the individual's probability of task success for a given level of goal, expectancy is responsive to information pertaining to objective characteristics of the task and the goal level. The proposition that higher levels of externally set goals contribute to lowered expectancies is consistent with this viewpoint. It is therefore reasonable to expect that the assigner of the task may be able to provide the task performer with other sources of relevant information (in addition to the actual goal level and task) that will also influence expectancies of task success. For instance, independent assessments of the individual's chances of task success (by the assigner of the task or another external agent) may also influence the composite expectancy that is formed by the task performer. The source credibility associated with the supplier of the information, however, should moderate how strongly these external estimates affect the individual's expectancy of task success.

Proposition 15: Independent external estimates of the individual's probability of success influence the person's (internal) expectancy of task success. Proposition 16: The credibility associated with the external source will moderate how strongly the external estimate of probability of success influences expectancy: high source credibility will contribute to stronger influences of independent external estimates (information) on expectancy than low credibility sources.

The preceding propositions (13 through 16) are consistent with the view that expectancy is influenced by objective characteristics of the task and other sources of external information. Additionally, they identify the cognitive processes that intervene in the influence of objective task factors on expectancy.


Figure 3.10 overlays the Goal-Expectancy pathway on the central

Extended Compliance pathway. Propositions 13 and 14 are represented by the links between "internal representation of goal difficulty," "estimate of personal resources required." and "expectancy." Proposition 15 is embodied by the link between "independent external estimates" and "expectancy"; and Proposition 16 is schematically depicted by the moderating effect of source credibility.

Externally Internal Mention to
Set Goal Representation of Goal Perform

Expectancy of
Estimate of Personal 10, Task Success Resource I

Source C to/In&pendent
External Estimates

Figure 3.10: The Goal-Expectancy Pathway Overlaid on the Extended Compliance Pathway.

Figure 3.10 also clearly elucidates how increasing levels of

externally set goals may affect performance in two opposing ways at the same time. Raising external performance targets normally enhance actual performance through the compliance path. Concurrently, increased goal levels lower expectancies which, in turn, can slow down or even reverse this positive influence. The following sections of this chapter will further examine these contingencies and other pathways involved in the processes.


Nature of the Goal-Exnectancy Relationshir)

Although increasing externally assigned goals have the effect Of diminishing expectancies of task success, there is no reason to believe that expectancy decreases proportionally with increasing goal levels. That is, although the relationship is monotonically negative, it may not be linear. In fact, it is likely that the curve depicting the relationship between external goal level and expectancy will consist of some characteristic elbows (or turning points) that will have significant effects on the manner in which expectancy moderates the goal setting effect. The nature of the shape of this curve is described as follows.

To begin to chart the representation under consideration, we begin at the very low end of goal difficulty and examine how expectancy changes in response to increases in goal difficulty. When external goal levels are very low (close to zero perhaps), increases in the level of external goal have little (or negligible) effects on expectancy of success. The downward sloping curve (representing diminishing expectancy in response to increasing external goals) is relatively flat. This is depicted by the segment AB in Figure 3.11 (which describes the shape of the goal-expectancy curve over an extended range).

At these low levels of goals, the task performer is likely to perceive no significant changes in difficulty levels with regard to his/her capabilities as the physical goal level is increased. As an example, a competent athlete would consider the task of Jumping over a two feet high bar to be only marginally more difficult, if at all, than jumping over one that is only one foot high. Similarly, a competent


of Task Success



Level of External Goal
(Internal representation of goal difficulty)

Figure 3.11: The Relationship Between Goal Level and Expectancy of Task Success

salesperson (who realizes several thousand dollars worth of profit through sales each year) would perceive very little difference in task difficulty in the course of confronting an annual sales quota of $100 and another of $200.

It is within this "zone of confidence," represented by AB in

Figure 3.11, that the effect of increasing goals on compliance will be most marked. Because of the very way in which goals are perceived, the compliance mechanism will work unhindered by lowered expectancies as goals are increased. That is, as goal levels are raised, the direct effect on "intention to perform" will be relatively undisturbed by the marginal decreases in the level of expectancy of task success.

As the physical level of the external goals are raised, the

individual will sooner or later Cross some threshold level of goal and reach a "zone of uncertainty." At these goal levels, the personal resources required to confront the task are perceived to approach the individual JTS own maximum resource levels. Raising goals further would


correspond to much sharper drops in expectancy estimates. In this zone, represented by the segment BC in Figure 3.11, the expectancy estimates will be very sensitive to changes in external goal levels. The threshold goal level corresponding to the beginning of the zone of uncertainty is represented by TL- while this may occur at different levels of external goals for different individuals, it is proposed that the shape of the curve depicts a basic characteristic in the way expectancy estimates will respond to changes in the external goal levels.

Finally, as external goals are raised even further, the task

performer will cross the upper threshold TU and enter another zone of relative certainty, BC. Goal levels in this zone correspond to those that are perceived to be equivalent to the impossible (e.g., jumping over a 30 feet bar, or realizing a profit of hundreds of millions of dollars, etc., in the context of the earlier illustrations).

In the zone of uncertainty, increases in external goals rapidly lower expectancy estimates. Consequently, the effect on performance (through the compliance mechanism) suffers on account of the moderating effect of lowered expectancy. When the expectancy falls below some critical level, the compliance mechanism can be expected to reverse to a "rejection mechanism" and further increases in external goals would be likely to lower intention to perform.

The preceding observations suggest that for a certain range of goal difficulty, particularly those characterized by the zone of confidence, one would observe a monotonic positive relationship between goal difficulty and performance. This is in accordance with the


observations of goal theorists. In this region, as some researchers have proposed, goals will be "accepted" by the task performer. Others merely suggest that "goal acceptance" or "goal commitment" is likely to be high. In any case, empirical results evincing positive monotonic relationships could be accounted for.

Empirical evidence negative monotonic relationships between goal

levels and performance are also accommodated by the preceding conceptual organization. Specifically, when the "compliance mechanism" is reversed at extremely low levels of expectancy, such negative effects will be observable.

Finally, the transition from the positive monotonic to the

negative monotonic slope (as goal difficulty levels are raised from the very low to the very high) generate an inverted-U shaped curve, evidence for which exists in literature as well.

The theoretical perspective offered here suggests a dynamic

interplay between some external variables and intermediate cognitive processes that naturally generate different kinds of goal-performance relationships. In the process, it offers insight into how the apparently conflicting empirical observations can be systematically explained and interpreted in the context of an organized framework. Also, the preceding framework is consistent with Goal Theory and Expectancy Theory postulates.

Earlier attempts at explaining inverted-U curves have referred to Atkinson's Achievement Motivation Model, since it predicts inverted-Ushaped relations between "subjective probability of success" and "tendency to succeed." However, it has typically been positioned as a


rival paradigm positioned as a rival paradigm to both Expectancy Theory and Goal Theory. It requires to be mentioned that, in addition to the inverted-U-shaped curve, Achievement Motivation Theory also predicts flat and U-shaped curves under certain conditions.

The rationale presented in this section purports to be a more

complete explanation of the bell-shaped goal-performance relationship than those that invoke the Achievement Motivation theory simply because it includes a similar prediction in a different setting that involves certain specific and restrictive assumptions regarding individual difference variables.

The theoretical perspective of this discourse is not aimed at establishing that the Achievement Motivation Model is invalid or is inconsistent with the existing evidence. In simply suggests that the observed inverted-U-shaped relationships do not automatically "disprove" Goal Theory and Expectancy Theory postulates (and establish a competing viewpoint), but are natural extensions of both. At the same time, they may be in accordance with any number of models that include inverted-Ushaped relationships (between goal and performance) among their predictions.

Proposition 17: The negative relationship between external goal and expectancy of task success is nonlinear. Specifically,
(a) at low levels of goal difficulty, overall expectancy is high but the decrease in expectancy in response to increase in goal levels is small;
(b) at very high levels of external goals, overall expectancy is very low and again changes in goal level produce small responses in expectancies; and
(c) at intermediate levels of external goals, the expectancy level decreases sharply in response to increases in external goals.


Proposition 18a: At low levels of external goals, the compliance mechanism is predominant: increases in external goal levels contribute to increased intention to perform, actual resources expended, and performance. Proposition 18b: At very high levels of external goals, increases in external goal levels affect intention to perform, actual resources expended, and performance negatively. Proposition 18c: As externally set goal levels are increased from the very low to the very high, the relation between the goal level and intention to perform (as well as between goal and performance) exhibits an inverted-Ushaped relationship.

The conceptual framework described in this chapter identifies some more pathways involved in the effect of goals on performance. These pathways shed additional light on why different kinds of goalperformance curves may be generated under differing circumstances and are examined in the following sections.

The Moderating Effect of Self-Efficacy

The preceding section enumerates processes involved in the

influence of external sources of information on the expectancy variable. However, there may also exist influences upon expectancy which originate from within the individual's cognitive System. Earlier studies have proposed that self-esteem and other measures of the individual's own appraisal of the self influence expectancy (see Chapter 2 for a fuller description).

In this section, it is proposed that self-efficacy has an important and significant moderating effect on the formation of expectancy. Since self-efficacy refers to the individual's sense of mastery in the given task domain, those who are low in self-efficacy are likely to perceive their personal chances of success at a given task


task differently than those high in self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, however, is not proposed to influence the formation of the abstract cognitive (or internal) goal representation, since that encoding is believed to occur before self-related cognitions are generated.

On the other hand, the effect of the abstract "internal

representation of goal" on the "estimate of personal resources required" invokes the individual's evaluation of personal standards and appraisal of personal resources available in light of the task goal as perceived by the individual. Tt is this relationship that is moderated by selfefficacy. This moderated effect is also reflected in the resultant level of expectancy. Eventually, self-efficacy affects "intention to expend effort" as well as performance through its enhancing effect on expectancy. Figure 3.12 depicts the preceding interactions schematically.

Externally Internal
Set Goal Representation of Goal


Estimate of Personal Expectancy of Resources Required Task Success

Figure 3.12: Moderating Effect of Self-Efficacy on Estimate of Personal Resources Required

Proposition 19; Self-efficacy moderates the effect of "internal representation of goal" on "estimated personal resources required" (and consequently on expectancy) as follows:


(a) for individuals high in self-efficacy, increased levels of internal representation of goal contribute to smaller increases in estimated personal resources necessary than individuals low in self-efficacy; and
(b) for individuals high in self-efficacy, increased levels of internal representation of goal contribute to smaller decreases in expectancy than individuals low in self-efficacy.

The Intrinsic Motivation Pathway

In the process of attempting to account for the goal setting effect, several studies have espoused the notion that difficult task goals are perceived as more "challenging" by the task performer than easy goals. This perception of challenge is believed to energize the task performer toward higher levels of performance. In this section of the chapter, issues that are of significance to the underlying cognitive processes implicated by this idea are examined and the contingencies associated with them are explored. The Concept of Intrinsic Rewards

One of the distinctive features of the "challenge" (that the

individual task performer is believed to perceive in difficult goals) is that it is a reward--a desirable consequence of undertaking the task performance--which is not administered or controlled by an external agent. There may exist other such desirable (or positively valenced) feeling states associated with difficult goal levels, such as satisfaction, enjoyment, fun, etc., all of which are internally generated and contingent upon the the individual's participation in the task. These rewards--generated internally by an interaction of the task