Goal setting theory–Firmly entrenched, but narrow in its focus.

Comments on the original article by Locke and Latham (see record 2019-00998-001). Studying Locke and Latham’s personal history provided me with a fascinating insight on the events that led to the merger of practical concerns in increasing productivity (Latham) and the early research findings on goal setting (Locke). This impressive body of research not only specifies the mediators and moderators of goal setting effects on performance, but also indicates how goal setting theory can be generalized across tasks, participants, outcome measures, and settings. To me, the notion that specific and challenging goals result, in most situations, in better performance than vague, easy, or “do your best” goals is empirically so well substantiated that it is very likely that Locke and Latham’s theory may indeed withstand the test of time. I wonder whether the well-researched and documented usability of goal setting theory is sufficient enough to make it a full-fledged approach for work motivation theory. And while I do not object to Locke and Latham’s (2019) view that “all organizations require goals” (p. 101), it also seems obvious that work itself entails many more objectives than meeting difficult, specific goals, and thereby becoming productive. Rather, a more comprehensive theory of work motivation would need to address additional questions, such as: why do some people reach their goals easily, while others, equally skilled, struggle and even fail? (Kehr, 2004); why do people choose goals that they dislike, and what can be done to increase a person’s intrinsic motivation? (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)