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  • Mamduh Halawa

Intrinsic Goals Lead To Higher Work Performance

A Chinese study published in 2018, investigated how different types of goals related to work performance.


The researchers theoretically based their study on the Goal Content Theory - which is posits that people set different types of goals for themselves. Namely, either intrinsic or extrinsic goals.



Intrinsic goals are directly related to higher order values in a persons life, such as more all encompassing visions regarding making meaningful contributions to ones community, and enjoying tasks themselves, regardless of external rewards.


Extrinsic goals are related to external rewards or avoidance of punishments - this is related to themes such as acquiring money or fame through ones actions.


Previous research has consistently shown that intrinsic goals are related to a high degree of positive outcomes, whereas extrinsic goals are related to several negative outcomes, such as higher levels of stress and lower levels of motivation.



349 workers all over China were asked to complete a survey that measured the degree and strength of both of these types of goals, all the while their managers were asked to rate their workers performance on lot of different factors.


What was evident from the results, were that workers that showed high degrees of intrinsic goals, also seemed to be rated as having higher levels of all types of work outcome measures, whereas high levels of extrinsic goals only seemed to be significantly correlated to task performance. Whats even more interesting is that for those rating high on extrinsic goals, they only seemed to be achieving high rates of task performance if they also rated high on intrinsic goals.


This study gives a strong indication of the power of the types of goals people set for themselves, and how they fair at work.



// Zeeds


Zhang, J. Zhang Y, Jjingjin, L. (2018). The effeft of intrinsic and extrinsic goals on work performance: Prospective and empirical studies on goal content theory. Personnel Review. 47(4). 900 - 912.

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