Ready, set, go(al)! New Directions in Goal-Setting Research

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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Goals are an effective way to motivate and guide people’s behaviours. Extant research has shown the (direct) impact of goal-setting upon behavioural and psychological outcomes at individual, team, and organisational levels. As a result, goal-setting practices have been embraced by the corporate world, which enabled a unique back-and-forth between academia and industry that furthered theoretical developments in goal-setting research inspired by practitioners’ needs. This interchange keeps goal-setting theory (abbrev. GST) continually relevant. Moreover, it underscores the objective of the empirical chapters (i.e., chapters 2 – 4) in this PhD dissertation, which is – through experiments with different focal points – to provide theoretically profound and practically sound additions to contemporary GST discussions.
Chapter 2 centres on goal-setting in teams. Specifically, a reasoning is proposed on how individual team members’ ideas on team goals inspire team-set team goals and subsequent performance. Two studies reveal that teams polarise when they are asked to set team goals. This shift is rather aspirational and is more pronounced for maximal compared to minimal goals. Moreover, it shows positive implications for team task performance.
Chapter 3 examines how goals effectuate self-regulatory and psychological responses within individuals. Three studies demonstrate that assigning individuals a minimal or maximal goal results in differential goal internalisation and self-efficacy experiences. Moreover, over time, facing constant negative performance feedback, self-set goal standards and self-efficacy beliefs will lower, where the rate of decline can be lessened in case maximal (versus minimal) goals are assigned.
Chapter 4 studies the impact and effectiveness of individual stretch goals upon individual performance. Furthermore, the potential valuable role of task significance as a motivational resource is investigated. Three studies mostly reveal that setting individual stretch goals to levels that are (objectively) considered impossible and unattainable leads to higher individual productivity levels if a goal is accepted. This works irrespectively of efforts to enhance an individual’s perception of task significance.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • van Dierendonck, Dirk, Supervisor
  • Giessner, Steffen, Supervisor
Award date11 Nov 2022
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-90-5892-648-7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2022


  • ERIM PhD Series Research in Management


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