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Literature Review Of Goal Setting

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Discuss about the Literature Review Goal Setting.



The goal setting involves the development of the action plan through which the individual or the organization can reach its goal or objective effectively.  In the theory of management goal setting plays a vital role as it can provide a shape to the performance and behavior of the employee at work place. In other words through goal setting the employees will be able to understand what he is supposed to achieve and how to achieve it. According to the goal setting theory of motivation by Edwin Locke the goal setting is directly propositional to the task performance and the performance improvement of the employees. Through goal setting the employee ambiguity in the work will be reduced and will get highly motivated to perform the tasks effectively.

Research questions

  • How positively the implementation of the goal setting model in the organization can improve the efficiency of the organization in achieving its goals and objectives?
  • How far the goal setting models and theories are can influence the motivational level of the employees at work place?

Goal Setting Concepts

Goal setting can be defined as the process through which a person or an organization identifies what it has to achieve and analyze how it can achieve those identified goals. In the business perspective the goal setting process plays a vital role as it guides and directs the behavior of the employees (Dean et al, 2016). Through goal setting challenges and standards are provided to the employees and the organization performance upon with they are analyzed. These attributes of goals setting makes it important for an organization’s efficiency.

Mr. Locke links his goal setting theory to the task performance of the employees in an organization. According to Mr. Locke when the employees are given with specific and challenging tasks along with necessary feedbacks the employees will get motivated to work more perfectly and would be more productive. Hence through the goal setting the employees are provided with a clear indication and direction to perform their tasks effectively (Martin, & Elliot, , 2016).

Source:, 2017

According to the Lock and Latham there are certain principles in the goal setting theory which makes it different from the other theories of the management.

Self efficiency: The employees self confidence level and his trust on his potential can contribute to the increase or decrease in his task performance (Stoll, 2016).

Goal commitment: Goal setting theory highlights that if the goal is open, self-set and consistent then the employees will not leave the goals and their commitment towards the goals will be higher (Rose, Rosewilliam, & Soundy, 2017).

Goal Clarity: Setting SMART goals can contribute to the higher motivation and the task performance of the employees. Through SMART goals it is highlighted that the goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reliable and Timely.


Goal Challenge: The difficult or the challenging goals can motivate the employees to perform the tasks more effectively. A realistic challenging goal can certainly motivate the employees according to the goal setting theory (Latham, Brcic, & Steinhauer).

Goal feedback: Provision and gaining adequate feedback from the employees will enable the management to identify their expectation and how reliable is the goal to them. The goal theory suggests that goal feedback enables the management to adjust the difficulty of the goals.

Goal setting models: The management generally implements the goal setting theory in the work place through the formulation of the goal setting models (Fredrix et al, 2016). the goal setting models are the guideline for the managers for how to set the goal and how to achieve the goals effectively. Some of the mostly used goals setting models are

SMART Model: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based model

SPIRO Model: Specificity, Performance, Involvement, Realism and Observability

DAPPS Model: Dated, Achievable, Personal, Specific and Specific Model

Research and findings

The findings which have been obtained from the research conducted on various articles related to the goal setting theory are highlighted here.

Mr. Fishbach, Shah and Kruglanski (2003) argue through their article that the Goal systems Theory plays a vital role in the goal setting process of the organization. According to them through goal systems theory there is an emotional transfer in the positive and the negative goal achievement in the individuals at work place. According to the goal systems theory highlighted in this article the employees will not only be motivated to achieve the goals but also the positive emotions of the goal achievement.

When this argument is compared with the Participative Goal setting theory of Mr. Chana and Ong they, specifies that goal setting is considered as the effective motivational techniques which can produce positive effects and outcomes. It also specifies that the employee participation in the goal setting process can enhance their commitment level for achieving the specific goals. The participatively assigned goals add value to the goal setting model. When participation is involved in the goal setting the positive emotions will be transferred according to the goal systems theory.

Mr. Seo and Ilies (2009), says that the self efficiency and the self regulations plays a vital role in the goal achievement and the motivational level of the employees. He highlights that positive self efficiency and the task environment is essential for motivating the employees for reaching his or her goals. He suggests that while the goal planning process the management will have to consider the perceptions of the employees about their efficiency and the task environment. His statements support the theory of Locke and Lethem of goal setting.


When the thoughts of Mr. Fishbach and Choi (2012), is compared with the thought of other authors he highlights the consequences of thinking about the goals in the employees which is not much strong. Through his article he says that if an individual is having specific goals he will be motivated to achieve those goals. According to him the behavioral intentions increases when the attentions towards the goals are increased.

Mr. Nahrgang et al (2013) speaks about the goal setting in teams and compiles his thoughts with the goal setting theory of Locke and Latham. Through his article he highlights the goal content and the goal specificity which has a vital role in the goal setting process. Through this he specifies two dimensions, first dimension highlights the learning goal and performance goal in a team and the second dimension highlights the understanding of the goal and altering the behavioral responses. He argues that based on the goals of the employees in a team the team performance is affected. If the goal content is learning, it acts as a backup for the performance. If the goal content is performance a proficiency in the task performance is achieved.

Mr. Sun, Vancouver and Weinhardt (2014) in contrast to other articles provide importance to the goal choice and planning process for a goal setting process. According to him the expectancies positively affects the goal adoption process or the goal choice.

From the findings which have been obtained from various articles it can be identified that the goal setting process is very important for the organization to enhance its productivity. If a goal setting model is implemented effectively in an organization the employees can focus on their work and can produce good outcomes. When formulating the goal setting model it is essential for the management to focus on the factors like the participative goal setting, goal choice, SMART goals, self efficiency of the employees etc.


Future directions on goal settings

The participative goal setting as explained by the Chana and Ong in their article can make the employees highly committed employees. But this approach of goal setting can limit the standardization and challenge in the goal. The participative approach can also lead to conflicts. Hence the management will have put a control and monitoring on the goal choice and planning process in the participative goal setting model.

As specified in the goal systems theory the emotional involvement or the negative emotional transfer through the non achievement of the goal can lead the employees into a fatigue situation. If the employees are unable to reach the goal it can certainly demotivate the employees. Hence the goal setting should be based in the SMART model so that the goals set can be achieved by the employees and they could get motivated to work more and to be more productive.

Some other research questions which can be considered in the future are mentioned below.

  • Can the goal setting process put the employees into a fatigue situation rather than motivating them?
  • How the goal setting can contribute to the achievement of the competitive advantage.


Goal setting is the process of setting specific targets in a workplace or in the daily life so that efficiency can be achieved. Through setting specific goals one would be motivated to achieve those goals. There are many theories which support the goal setting process. The goal setting theory of Locke highlights its link with the employee motivation and the task performance. Many theories which support the goal setting processes are discussed. Various articles relating to the goal settings are reviewed for the purpose research and the outcomes are discussed.



Ayelet Fishbach,  James Y. Shah and Arie W. Kruglanski, (2014), Emotional transfer in goal systems.pdf, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, University of Chicago

Ayelet Fishbach, Jinhee Choi (2012), When thinking about goals undermines goal pursuit, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes,

Christina Sue-Chana, and Mark Ongb, 2017, Goal assignment and performance: Assessing the mediating roles of goal commitment and self-efficacy and the moderating role of power distance.pdf, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR AND HUMAN DECISION PROCESSES, University of Manitoba

Dean, S. G., Levack, W. M. M., Weatherall, M., Hay-Smith, E. J. C., McPherson, K., & Siegert, R. J. (2016). Goal setting and strategies to enhance goal pursuit in adult rehabilitation: summary of a Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis.

Fredrix, M., Mc Sharry, J., Byrne, M., & Dinneen, S. (2016). Goal-setting as a behaviour change technique in diabetes self-management: a systematic review of intervention studies. European Health Psychologist, 18(S), 438.

Jennifer D. Nahrgang, D. Scott DeRue , John R. Hollenbeck, Matthias Spitzmuller Dustin K. Jundt, Daniel R. Ilgen, (2013), Goal setting in teams: The impact of learning and performance goals on process and performance, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Latham, G. P., Brcic, J., & Steinhauer, A. (2017). Toward an Integration of Goal Setting Theory and the Automaticity Model. Applied Psychology, 66(1), 25-48.

Martin, A. J., & Elliot, A. J. (2016). The role of personal best (PB) goal setting in students' academic achievement gains. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 222-227.

Myeong-gu Seo, Remus Ilies (2009), The role of self-efficacy, goal, and affect in dynamic motivational self-regulation. pdf, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Rose, A., Rosewilliam, S., & Soundy, A. (2017). Shared decision making within goal setting in rehabilitation settings: A systematic review. Patient Education and Counseling, 100(1), 65-75.

Shuhua Sun, Jeffrey B. Vancouver, Justin M. Weinhardt, (2014), Goal choices and planning: Distinct expectancy and value effects in two goal processes, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Stoll, J. R. (2016). How Student-Led Goal Setting and Self-Monitoring of Progress Impacts SelfEfficacy Among Third Graders at an International School in Eastern Europe.


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