Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





G. Douglas Jenkins

Committee Member

Nina Gupta

Second Committee Member

Walter J. Schuldt


effort, function, goal setting, expectancy theory


Different individuals, with the same ability and faced with the same environmental constraints, exert varying amounts of effort, and, to the extent that performance is a function of effort, achieve different levels of performance. This study proposes and tests a theory of motivation which is an integration of what have previously been considered separate, and often conflicting, theories of motivation. The study hypothesizes that motivational differences in effort or performance may be due to either differences in goal level or differences in goal commitment and tests the integrated model against a model which uses assigned goals to predict effort (goal setting theory), a model which uses the expected value of goals to predict goal choice, then uses goal choice to predict effort (expectancy theory choice model), and a model which uses the expected value of a goal to predict effort (expectancy theory motivational force model). Two hundred fifty college students enrolled at Western Michigan University participated in a laboratory experiment using a 2x2x2 factorial design. The assigned goal level, the probability of success, and the valence of the outcomes of a ring-toss task were manipulated to assess their impact on effort and performance over two trials. Results generally support the unified model. Both individual goals and goal commitment were significant predictors. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. of effort and performance, however goal commitment did not become significant until Trial 2. Apparently there was no difference in goal commitment until subjects began to tire. The results also show that goal assignment affects both probability and valence estimates. Also, predicted goals were significantly correlated with stated goals. Tests against alternative formulations demonstrated that the unified model was superior to the goal setting model, the expectancy choice model, and the expectancy force model. The results of the study imply that the higher the individual's goal, the higher the performance, individuals will choose higher goals as long as higher goals have higher expected value than less difficult goals, and the higher the expected value of a goal the more committed an individual will be to the goal. Implications of the results for managers are discussed.