This approach to motivation has been pioneered in the USA by Edwin Locke and his associates in 1960s and refined in 1980s. Goal-setting theory suggests that managers and subordinates should set goals for an individual on a regular basis, as suggested by MBO. These goals should be moderately difficult and very specific and of type that an employee will accept and make a commitment to accomplishing them. Rewards should be tied directly to accomplished goals. When involved in goal-settings, employees see how their effort will lead to performance, rewards and personal satisfaction.



Salient features of this theory are as follows:

  • Specific goal fixes the needs of resources and efforts.
  • It increases performance.
  • Difficult goals result higher performance than easy job.
  • Better feedback of results leads to better performances than lack of feedback.
  • Participation of employees in goal has mixed result.
  • Participation of setting goal, however, increases acceptance of goal and involvements.
  • Goal setting theory has defined two factors,’ which influences the performance. These are given below:
  • Goal commitment
  • Self-efficiency.


The mere act of goal setting does not ensure higher levels of motivation among employees. In fact, there seem to be three important criteria that goals must meet if they are to influence the behavior of organization members. They are goal specificity, goal difficulty and goal acceptance.


Goal Specificity

Goals must be stated in specific terms if they are to motivate effective performance. Goals must be set in terms of measurable criteria of work performance, i.e., number of units produced, new sales etc. and must specify a lime period within which the goal is to be attained. It also gives a sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment to workers if he is able to meet the specific goal.


Goal Difficulty/Challenge

There exists a relationship between goal difficulty and work motivation. The more difficult- and challenging the goal is, the higher the level of motivation and performance. However, it is essential that goals are set at realistic levels. Goals that are very difficult to achieve are unable to motivate since it is beyond the capacity of the concerned individual.


Goal Acceptance

In order to influence motivation and performance, a goal must be internalized by an individual. In other words, the person has to feel some personal ownership of the goal and must have commitment to achieve it.


Goal Setting in Practice

The most obvious implication of goal-setting theory is that managers should be helping subordinates to set goals that are specific and reasonably difficult so that subordinates accept and internalize them as their own goals. Besides this, there are a number of issues that arise in implementing goal setting in practice.

  • Though specificity of goal is essential and measurability is desirable, it should not affect in identifying meaningful and valid objective of goal attainment.
  • The manager can stimulate goal acceptance in at least three ways:
  • By involving subordinates in goal-setting process.
  • By demonstrating a supportive attitude and approach toward his subordinates.
    • By assigning various rewards to the achievement of goals.


Management by Objectives (MBO) is a managerial technique for improving motivation and performance using goal-setting principles.


Cognitive Evaluation Theory

A researcher ‘Charms’ reported in 1960 that extrinsic motivation like pay or rewards for a job, which has an intrinsic-motivation content, which is prior to such rewards. It tends to decrease overall level of motivation. This proposal is called cognitive Evaluation Theory” which has been supported by a large number of research studies conducted subsequently.


The following two tabs change content below.
We, at, believe in sharing knowledge and giving quality information to our BMS students. We are here to provide and update you with every details required by you BMSites! If you want to join us, please mail to [email protected]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


* is aimed at revolutionising Bachelors in Management Studies education, also known as BMS for students appearing for BMS exams across all states of India. We provide free study material, 100s of tutorials with worked examples, past papers, tips, tricks for BMS exams, we are creating a digital learning library.

Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any university or government body in anyway.

©2020 BMS - Bachelor of Management Studies Community 

A Management Paradise Venture

Ask Us On WhatsApp

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?


Create Account