Self Regulation in work and I/O Psychology

Over the past three decades, industrial/organisational (I/O) research on goals and self-regulation has flourished. Beginning with the seminal work by Locke, Latham, and their colleagues showing the positive influence of difficult and specific goals on task performance, multiple streams of research have emerged to investigate both the determinants and consequences of goals and self-regulation processes on work-related behaviors and outcomes (see, e.g. Locke, Shaw, Saari, & Latham, 1981; Vancouver, 2000, for reviews). In a review of this work, Vancouver and Day (see record 2005-03192-002) suggest that although organisational researchers have sought evidence for external and criterion-related validity, less attention has been given to the construct and internal validity of key variables and concepts, such as goals, self-efficacy, feedback, discrepancy, and self-efficacy. In a related vein, Vancouver and Day conclude that although I/O intervention studies based on the goal/self-regulation perspective show generally positive effects, such studies are insufficient for understanding how specific aspects of the goal/self-regulation process relate to enhanced performance. In this short note, I consider these concerns about goal/self-regulation research in I/O psychology from three perspectives: (1) scientific progress, (2) applications, and (3) the goals of I/O research.