Relationships among extrinsic knowledge of results, self-set goals, immediate actions and final outcomes in a retail setting
This dissertation developed a conceptual framework which related extrinsic knowledge of results (KR), individual self-set goals, immediate actions and final outcomes. In addition, two dimensions of feedback (timing and precision) were defined and formed the basis from which the remaining conceptual framework and hypotheses were developed. From laboratory research on goal setting a positive relationship between extrinsic KR and level and specificity of self-set goals was found. Also, the level of these goals and final performance outcomes were found to be related. The final sections of the conceptual framework focused on the relationships between immediate actions and final outcomes. By measuring the effort and appropriateness of behavior in relation to extrinsic KR and self-set goals it was anticipated that specific conclusions regarding the motivational process might be reached. From this conceptual framework two groups of hypotheses were developed. First, hypotheses one through five evolved from the timing of extrinsic KR. Sales personnel attitudes and performance were examined in testing these hypotheses. Second, hypotheses six through eight were developed from the precision of extrinsic KR. These hypotheses focused on the relationships from a management perspective. In order to test the hypotheses developed in a field setting, it was necessary to select an organization where differences in timing and precision of extrinsic KR existed. The organization studied was a small, independently owned chain of seven retail shoe stores. The four stores in the Houston area had electronic cash registers installed prior to the study which provided sales productivity reports for all employees several times a day, as well as daily counts of inventory sold in specific categories. At the same time, the stores in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area operated using a completely manual check-out and bookkeeping system. Employee sales productivity reports were only available once per week and no inventory information was regularly collected. Thus, differences in both timing and precision of feedback were expected. Unfortunately, no employee attitude data was available prior to the installation of the electronic cash registers. Each store in this chain had a manager, from one to three assistant managers and a number of part- and full-time sales personnel. The assistant managers and sales personnel worked on a coranission basis, so knowledge of sales was directly related to their reward. Store managers received a percentage of their store's sales. It was therefore likely that individual self-set goals would be reported. Multiple methods, multiple raters and/or "hard" performance data were used to measure each of the constructs in the framework. The primary sources of information came from an employee questionnaire and company sales and inventory records. Additional sources included a customer survey, employee phone survey, manager interviews and managerial appraisals of employee performance. The measures from the employee questionnaires were found to be reliable as well as stable between the beginning and end of the Spring, 1978, season. Also, anticipated differences in levels of feedback available to persons working in the two cities were found. However, employee, customer and manager perceptions of effort and performance were not convergent. The results of correlation analyses testing the five hypotheses stemming from timing of extrinsic KR showed a significant relationship between self-set goals and effort. Also, feedback was related to effort and effort to goal-related performance at the end of the Spring, 1978, season. Manager interviews and company records were used in examining group two hypotheses stemming from the precision of extrinsic KR. Some relation between precision of feedback and specificity of goals was found. Further research in both laboratory and field settings would be required to adequately test these relationships.