Dyadic goal setting : A longitudinal study of behavioral consensus, role dynamics, and goal consensus among managers and their subordinates



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This dissertation was a research investigation of the dyadic goal setting process. A conceptual research model was presented which proposed that supervisory expectations of the goal setting process were one antecedent affecting the various dimensions of the process, as perceived by the supervisor and the subordinate. The model identified task goal properties, supervisory behaviors, and subordinate behaviors as three primary dimensions of the goal setting process. In addition, supervisor-subordinate consensus was introduced as a fourth primary dimension of goal setting based upon the theoretical framework developed. The theoretical framework extended the motivational foundations of goal setting through the integration of role theory and Locke's theory of goal setting. The integrated theoretical framework viewed goal setting as a role making technique in organizational setting as well as a motivational technique for enhancing the task performance of employees. The framework identified the supervisor-subordinate dyad as the unit of study for investigations of the goal setting process. A two phased empirical investigation of the research model was undertaken in an insurance company over a nine month period. The first phase of the research was an interview study in which unstructured interviews with executives and managers (N=26) were conducted. Based upon these interviews and previous goal setting research, a 90-day time series design was employed in the second phase of the research. The time-series design was based upon a sample of executive supervisors (N=15) and their managerial and staff subordinates (N=34), who formed 34 goal setting dyads. Survey questionnaires and company records served as the data collection techniques employed in this phase of the research. The results provided some support for that portion of the research model which suggested that supervisory expectations of the goal setting process would affect the dimensions of goal setting. Based upon the time-series data, the cross-lagged panel correlation technique was used to examine the effects of goal setting dimensions upon the dependent variables of performance, role stress, and goal acceptance. The results suggested that a mutually causal relationship might be inferred between goal clarity, the quality of performance feedback, and role stress. It was not possible to infer any causal connections between the goal setting dimensions and performance. The results did suggest that supervisor-subordinate consensus may be more appropriately viewed as a secondary outcome of the goal setting process. A multitrait-multimethod matrix analysis was used to examine the discriminant and convergent validity of the dimensions of goal setting. The supervisors and subordinates served as the raters within this validation method. The results suggested limited support for the validity of the goal setting dimensions. These findings were interpreted based upon previous research. An exploratory analysis of the consensus construct was completed. The measures of intra-dyad consensus were found to be reliable, but it was not possible to address the validity of these measures. The degree of inter-role consensus was examined and the results suggested that significant differences between supervisors and subordinates existed regarding the supervisor's goal behaviors. The importance of these findings was discussed in detail.