Original Research

The relationship between managers’ goal-setting styles and subordinates’ goal commitment

Xander van Lill, Gerhard Roodt, Gideon de Bruin
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 23, No 1 | a3601 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v23i1.3601 | © 2020 Xander van Lill, Gerhard Roodt, Gideon P. de Bruin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 March 2020 | Published: 02 November 2020

About the author(s)

Xander van Lill, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Gerhard Roodt, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Gideon de Bruin, Department of Industrial Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Convincing employees to set aside their self-interests and commit to collective goals is essential for the effective functioning of organisations. It is critical that the impact of different managerial goal-setting styles, and the associated impressions of fair interpersonal treatment in the workplace, is understood from subordinates’ perspective. This might clarify the psychological mechanisms involved in motivating subordinates to commit to organisational goals.

Aim: The primary aim of this article is to determine the relationship between managers’ goal-setting styles and subordinates’ goal commitment. The secondary aim is to determine whether this relationship is mediated by interactional justice.

Setting: A total of 451 working adults completed an online or paper-and-pen survey.

Methods: A mediator model was conducted in structural equation modelling with maximum likelihood estimation and Bollen-Stine bootstrapping, with 5000 bootstrap resamples, to test the hypotheses.

Results: The perception that managers are deliberative had the greatest positive direct relationship with subordinates’ goal commitment, followed by the directive style. Subordinates’ perception of managers as complaisant, in turn, were unrelated to goal commitment (amotivational), whereas the perception of managers as hostile had a negative relationship with goal commitment. Informational justice, not interpersonal justice, emerged as the only mediating variable.

Conclusion: Managers should be encouraged to actively seek feedback from subordinates on their goal-setting styles. Managers can accordingly adapt their behaviour to effectively motivate subordinates to commit to organisational goals.


Keywords

work motivation; goal-setting styles; supervisor-focused interactional justice; goal commitment.

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