Goal clarity, criticality and performance
Anderson, Derrick Mason
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Goal-setting theory (GST) is among the most validated and replicated theories of motivation. A central assertion of GST is that encouraging employees to pursue clear goals leads to greater performance benefits than encouraging them to pursue vague goals. This assertion motivates many recent government reform efforts and GST is being integrated into public management research and theory. Public Administration perspectives on goals have filled important knowledge gaps in GST related to the causes of organizational goal ambiguity, various subdimensions of goal ambiguity and the relationship between organizational and individual level goals. This dissertation builds upon GST by examining the joint performance effects of goal clarity and task criticality. A 3x2 factorial design laboratory experiment was conducted using a sample of students (n=214). Treatments included goal clarity and task criticality. Results indicate that goal clarity increases performance. Task criticality has no effect on performance in groups with either no goal or a vaguely specified goal. Task criticality has a negative effect on performance when goals are highly specified.