Organization Management Journal


An individual’s personal goal is one of the strongest motivators, yet its determinants and processes are not well understood, especially those dealing with person–situation interaction. This research examines the interactive effects of monetary incentive types, self-set goal level instructions, and self-esteem on personal goals and goal attainment. A laboratory research study with a sample of 300 students found a statistically significant three-way interaction among monetary incentive types (pay for performance [piece rate], pay for goal attainment [GA-bonus], and pay for participation [hourly flat rate]), self-set goal level instructions (an instruction to set hard, easy, any, and no goals), and self-esteem in influencing personal goals and goal attainment. The highest level of personal goals (and the lowest level of goal attainment) was achieved by high-self-esteem participants who were paid for performance and instructed to set hard goals. This research shows that person–situation interaction is the most promising in understanding personal goals and their determinants.