GOAL-SETTING IN THE NAVAJO NATION: THE EFFECTS OF
PARTICIPATION ON GOAL ACCEPTANCE AND GOAL CONSENSUS
Elayne Lachtmp Gallagher
B.A.. University of Colorado. 1973
M.P.A., University of Colorado. 1975
A dissertation submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirement for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
1995 by Elayne Lachtrup Gallagher
All rights reserved.
This Thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
Elyane Lachtrup Gallagher
has been approved for the
Graduate School of Public Affairs
/ 2 -J6-9y
Gallagher, Elayne Lachtrup, Ph.D., Public Administration
Goal-setting in the Navajo Nation: The Effects of Participation on Goal
Acceptance and Goal Consensus
! Thesis directed bv Professor Mark L. McConkie
i This study examines the relationship among organizational
\ participation in goal-setting, goal acceptance and goal consensus within the
Navajo Community College (NCC) multi-campus system. The study extends
| goal-setting research by proposing a two-step model suggesting that
participation in goal-setting influences goal acceptance and that goal
acceptance influences goal consensus. The causal comparative method was
used to investigate the possible cause and effect relationships of these
| The research over the last thirty years, linking goal-setting to
J performance, indicates that goal acceptance is an important factor in
j moderating the effects of goal setting. Studies further suggest that consensus
| on the organization's most important goals is necessary for organizational
effectiveness and that participation is a means to achieve goal consensus.
This study is guided by goal-setting theory' which has been described in
the literature as the process that explores the factors affecting the relationship
between goals and performance. Most of the research over the last thirty years
has been conducted at the micro (individual) goal-setting level within the
mainstream Anglo-American cultural setting. There is little evidence of
interest in goal-setting in sub-cultures, creating the assumption that sub-
cultures mirror the dominant culture. This study responds to calls in the
literature for research in macro (organizational) settings outside the
mainstream U.S. culture by extending the study of goal-setting to the Navajo
A path analysis on the data was performed to analyze the effects of
participation on goal acceptance and goal consensus. The results demonstrated
that participation had both statistically significant direct and indirect effects on
consensus (p<01). The analysis further showed that when the variables of
acceptance and consensus were reversed in the path, participation had a
statistically significant direct effect on consensus and that consensus had a
statistically significant direct effect on acceptance. The findings that
perceived participation was higher for Navajos than non-Navajos, and that
both Navajos and non-Navajos indicated a high desire for more participation
| j suggest that the cultural environment of the Navajo setting may influence the
i | effects of participation.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed: /IA^uAA- L- f\A
Mark L. McConkie
Access to complete this research was made possible through the
approval of the Navajo Community College's Board of Regents and Executive
Staff to explore goal-setting strategies within the college's multi-campus
system. My deep appreciation is extended to Doctor Tommy Lewis, President
of the Navajo Community College, the Executive Staff for their support and
assistance throughout the study, and to the research participants. It is my
sincere hope that the findings from this study will strengthen the Navajo
Community College's efforts in serving the Navajo Nation. It is also my hope
that the college's goal-setting process will be guided by the traditional Native
American belief "that all of one's actions and decisions should be governed by
the effects they will have on the seventh generation."
My special gratitude and admiration is extended to my dissertation
committee chairperson, Mark McConkie, Ph.D., who guided the process and
whose encouragement, sense of humor, and confidence in me provided the
support necessary to complete this study. I also wish to recognize the
contributions of my committee members who contributed many hours of their
time to explore issues and options in directing the course of the study.
To my husband, John, for his patience, encouragement, support and
love throughout the long period of this study.
The Scope of the Study....................
Problem Statement and Background . .
Site of the Study...................
Relevance of the study....................
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE..................
The Concept and Role of Participation.....
Participation and Goal Acceptance ....
Social, Motivational and Cognitive Factors
Participation and Organizational Culture .
The Role of Goal Consensus..........
Macro and Micro Goal-setting Research.....
Cross-Cultural Implications in Goal-Setting .
3. DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY....................
The Research Instrument...................
4. FINDINGS............................................... 98
Analysis of Means and Standard Deviations........100
Statistical Analysis of the Data.................106
Summary of Quantitative Findings.................120
Analysis of One-on-One Interviews......................121
Summary of the Interviews........................127
Practical Implications of the Findings...........139
A. Navajo Community College. Organizational Chart ... 144
B. Navajo Community College. Mission Statement 145
C. Research Questionnaire.............................146
D. Interview Questionnaire Guide......................154
E. Letter from University of Colorado to NCC........ .155
This study examines the relationships among organizational
participation, goal acceptance and goal consensus within the Navajo
Community College multi-campus system. It will seek to determine whether
participation by organization members in the goal-setting processes increases
their acceptance of the goals as legitimate and whether such participation leads
to organizational goal consensus. To some, it may appear that goal acceptance
and goal consensus are the same concepts parading under different terms.
Goal acceptance, however, as defined in the literature, and as used in this
study, refers to an individual's willingness to exert effort to achieve a task.
Goal consensus, on the other hand, refers to group agreement or "shared
perspectives" on the importance of goals.
In addition, this study will build on the foundation laid by the
normative organizational theory literature which places a high value on
participatory management and participatory strategy formulation processes,
both of which assume that a high level of organizational goal consensus is
necessary for high productivity and performance.
At the same time, my intent is to enrich our understanding of the goaJ-
setting theory by exploring the variables under consideration within the
relatively homogeneous cultural context of the Navajo Community College.
Ultimately, I hope to integrate the conflicting findings of previous studies with
the findings of this study in order to expand our comprehension of goal-
setting theory and to suggest implications for future research.
The complete dissertation will be organized as follows: Chapter one
outlines the background of the study, explaining both its scope and context, as
well as its theoretical importance and framework. Chapter two contains a
review of the relevant literature, focusing on goal-setting theory and its
underlying values. Chapter three contains the conceptual model I propose to
test, the research methodology by which it will be tested, and the statements of
hypotheses. In chapter four, I discuss the results of my study, consider their
theoretical significance, and draw appropriate conclusions. Finally, in chapter
five, I will draw from my study implications for future research which might
expand existing goal-setting theory beyond the scope of current research and
The Scope of the Study
Goal-setting theory empirically linking goal-setting to performance has
been a dominant theme in the management literature for the past thirty years
(Hollenbeck & Klein, 1987; Locke & Latham, 1990). Although there is strong
evidence linking goal-setting to performance, there are inconsistent findings
on the relationship between the variables of participation, goal acceptance, and
goal consensus. The value of this study is its focus on the relationships of
Throughout the organization theory and management literature, there is
an explicit advocacy of participatory management practices. Mary Parker
Follett argued as early as 1926 that "orders should be the composite conclusion
of those who receive them." Coch and French (1948), in their classic study,
found that increased productivity followed employees' participation in the
planning of job method changes. Drawing on the classic Coch and French
study to support their contention, Hersey and Blanchard (1982) state that
involving subordinates in the planning process will increase goal commitment.
Donovan (1988) contends that employees are more committed to their worklife
when they play a part in designing the work. Searfoss and Monszka (1973)
found that perceived participation and motivation are positively related.
French and Bell (1978) found that healthy organizations tend to have goal-
setting at all levels of the organization, and that "wider participation in goal-
setting leads to a greater utilization of an organization's resources...and results
in significantly better plans" (p. 81).
Likert's (1967) often cited "linking pin" model proposes that
organizations achieve full participation in goal-setting by an overlapping
group form structure which links persons from various hierarchial levels in
participatory work groups. The "linking pin" structure provides for
participation by linking persons in an organization's hierarchy who hold
overlapping memberships in two or more work groups to communicate and
influence decision-making in two or more directions. This is normally
achieved through a supervisor or lead person at the lower level, who also has
membership in the next level. The linking pin model creates organization-
wide participation through reciprocal responsibility in reaching and
implementing decisions (Likert & Likert, 1976).
Participation in goal-setting has been a predominant factor in MBO,
although it has been recognized that the degree of participation present in an
organization is relative to its hierarchial structure and power distribution
(Muczyk & Reimann, 1989).
One of the central issues in participatory management is some level of
participation in goal-setting, which is seen as a means of gaining subordinates'
commitment to organizational goals. It is also seen as a way of improving
employees' understanding of what is expected of them and of what is attainable
(Wooten & Burroughs, 1991), as well as a way of gaining relevant knowledge
about the task (Locke, 1982).
Participation in goal-setting is considered so important that Erez and
Kanfer (1983) argue that unless individuals have some level of perceived
influence in goal-setting to satisfy their need for some control in the use of
their skills, they are not likely to fully accept or comply with the goals set.
Wilier and Miller (1976) for example, found that providing employees with
information about a task without their participation resulted in low levels of
goal acceptance and poor performance. French, Kay and Meyer (1966) further
found that for employees with high independence needs, goal acceptance
increased with participation. Chidester and Grigsby (1984) found that
"participation in goal-setting (which also includes studies demonstrating
acceptance of goals) had a clear and consistent moderator effect across all
studies" (p. 205). Acceptance of organizational goals is thus considered a key
factor in the relationship between goal-setting and performance (Locke, 1968).
Greenberg and Barron (1993) suggest that "selecting goals that are acceptable
to employees may be facilitated by allowing employees to participate in the
goal-setting process" (p. 144).
Even supporters of the organizational culture school of thought (see,
e.g. Schein, 1985; Deal & Kennedy, 1982), who discuss what are often
considered "fuzzy" goals, see employee participation and "employee-centered
cultures" (Beer & Walton, 1987) as important mechanisms for establishing a
collaborative culture and focusing employee attentions on overall
organizational purposes (Dennison, 1984). Sashkin (1984) uses what he calls
a "value based" approach, indicating that employee participation is a "moral
imperative" because it satisfies important personal needs necessary for
employee health (pp. 5, 9).
French and Bell (1978) state that in the past it was assumed that goal-
setting and planning were solely the functions of top management, while the
lower echelons were responsible for implementation. They further indicate
that the current paradigm posits wider participation in goal-setting, which
leads to better plans and improved utilization of the organization's resources.
Additionally, they suggest that "plans that have been the combination of many
people at lower levels of the organization probably have more chance of being
realistic and attainable, and also have built in support for carrying them out"
(p. 81). Furthermore, top management can develop clear and detailed goal
statements, but they may not seem important to employees (Hage &
Fensterbusch, 1987), whose commitment and enthusiasm is necessary for
implementation. For, according to McGregor (1960), the more goals are
shared by all through a true integration of the individuals' and organizational
goals, performance will improve (Hersey & Blanchard, 1982). Cochand
French (1948) further indicate that participatory management is one of the
oldest and most effective strategies for overcoming resistance. According to
Cummings and Worley (1993), participation can lead to designing high quality
systems and to facilitating implementation by reducing resistance. Cummings
and Worley suggest that an additional benefit of participation is that
participating members bring a diversity of information and ideas and help to
identify potential pitfalls and barriers.
Participatory management is based on the concept that employees
closest to the job and client group have valuable experience and the knowledge
needed to develop the best solutions to organizational problems (Jedlicka,
1987; Lindsay, Curtis, & Manning, 1989). Stogdill's (1974) extensive research
indicates that "participativeness" is one of six most important leadership traits.
Wheatley (1992) in Leadership and the New Science emphasizes the
importance of participation for organizations of the twenty-first century.
According to Wheatley, the traditional organization relies on senior
management or experts who interpret data within the limited confines of their
narrow circle, and thus ignores a rich resource pool of potential data from
people closer to the line of service. She says that:
Participation, seriously done, is a way out from the uncertainties and
ghostly qualities of this nonobjective world we live in. We need a
broad distribution of information, view points and interpretation if we
are to make sense of this world, (p. 64)
In emphasizing the importance of participation in goal-setting,
different models have been proposed for examining participation. Proponents
of "cognitive models" (Latham & Saari, 1979; Locke & Schweiger, 1979;
Locke, Shaw, Saari, & Latham, 1981; Bartlem & Locke, 1981) of
participation, for example, suggest that participation affects performance by
increasing the flow of important information throughout the organization
(Miller & Monge, 1986). By increasing employees' knowledge of what is
expected of them, the quality of decisions is thereby improved (Frost, Wakeley
& Ruh, 1974; Anthony, 1978). Supporters of "motivational models" (Coch &
French, 1948; Lewin, 1943, 1951) contend that participation reduces
resistance to change. Contingency model supporters argue that the
effectiveness of participation depends on the social, organizational and cultural
context and situation, and therefore models of participation cannot be
developed that are generalizable across a variety of situations and people
(Hulin, 1971; Singer, 1975; Hofstede, 1980a). One of the more influential
examples of the contingency approach is a conceptual framework proposed by
Wilpert (1984) in which participatory management practices are examined
within the context of cultural values. Wilpert emphasizes that managerial
practices are influenced by social values and cultural norms.
The research linking goal consensus to performance is limited
compared to the investigations on the relationship of participation and
consensus. Furthermore, there is a void in the literature linking participation in
goal-setting, goal consensus and performance. Several organizational scholars
suggest that "the greater the goal consensus and priorities of goals among
coalitions, the greater the organizational effectiveness in goal achievement"
(Maxwell, 1984, p. 29). While there is another body of literature that supports
goal disagreement, or the role of the "devil's advocate" position in the goal-
setting process, it is generally agreed upon that "there should be some level of
agreement by policy-level managers on the goal priorities" (Bourgeois, 1980,
p. 230). Furthermore, goal consensus becomes increasingly urgent during
times of tight fiscal constraints "because during periods of resource scarcity a
'unified direction' for the organization becomes of primary importance"
(Bourgeois, 1981, p. 266). Child (1974) speculates that "the less dispersed top
management objectives are and the more agreement there is among senior
managers as to which objectives have priority, the more successful the
organization will be in attaining them" (p. 8).
In practice, leading corporations and organizations around the world
are engaging in strategic planning and goal-setting processes. This increased
emphasis on planning and goal-setting is an indication that managers believe
that to be effective, their organizations must be goal focused, customer
sensitive and results driven (Bubrick. 1992).
Problem Statement and Background
This study addresses three critical issues relevant to Public
Administration theory and practice: (1) the need for further research regarding
the effects of participation and consensus at the macro level in different
organizational and cultural settings; (2) the need for further insight in the
debate regarding the benefits, limitations and boundaries of participation and
goal acceptance and (3) due to the current lack of confidence in U. S.
government, the need for a better understanding of effective management
practices in public institutions, particularly public education .
American government, according to Osborne and Gaebler (1992).
needs to be more flexible and entrepreneurial, and more relevant and
responsive to its customer. Changing demographics and diversity in the
workplace (Johnston & Packer, 1987), the rising skill requirements of the
emerging economy (Cetron & Davies, 1989), increasing fiscal constraints and
the disillusionment with government as an effective service provider (Osborne
& Gaebler, 1992), imply the need for revolutionary changes in the mission
and management of our public institutions. American public education
institutions are in the forefront of this crisis. At the same time that American
education is being called upon to upgrade the skills of its students, it is
reported that our high-schools are producing semi-literate graduates.
Educational performance is said to be the lowest for minorities who, in fact,
are projected to be the majority in fifty-three American cities by the year 2000
(Cetron & Davies, 1989).
Johnston and Packer (1987) report that "between now and the year
2000. for the first time in history, a majority of all new jobs will require post
secondary education" (p.xvii). Cetron and Davies further indicate that:
...High school graduates not bound for college will need not only a
strong foundation of core learning, but some way to make a living in a
technological world. Those planning further study will need less
vocational training, but more advanced science and mathematics...
A critical factor in this environment is an improved understanding of
the management of our public institutions, not only as they operate in the
mainstream Anglo-American cultural environment, but also as they perform in
sub-cultures. Toward this purpose, this study examines goal-setting
dimensions in an organization within the cultural context of the Navajo
The decreasing confidence in government, in general, and institutions
of public education in particular, poses a serious threat to public educational
institutions of all kinds. This is evidenced by the school voucher movement
and the defeat of many school bond proposals and tax measures for the benefit
of public education. Osborne and Gaebler (1992) describe the effects of the
public's lack of confidence and unwillingness to rely on or support government
programs, including public education:
We can sit idlely by as a vicious cycle unwinds in which the less
people depend on government the less they are willing to finance it, the
less they finance it, the worse it gets, and the worse it gets the less they
depend on it. Or we can wake up as entrepreneurial leaders from
Phoenix to East Harlem to Minnesota have and embrace competition
as a tool to revitalize our public institutions (p. 107).
As an illustration of this reality for NCC, Congress authorized under
the Tribal College Act, P.L. 102-325, Amendment to Title II, the appropriation
of "$2,000,000.00 for fiscal year 1993 and such sums as may be necessary for
each of the four succeeding fiscal years" for construction purposes at NCC.
No funds, however, have been appropriated. The college has also been unable
to rely on stable funding from the Navajo Tribal Government, and, in fact, in
recent years has experienced a decline in revenue from the tribal government.
Thus, underfunding, a common dilemma for government organizations, may
contribute to its underperformance, and underpeformance may result in its
inability to improve its funding support. Public organizations, therefore, need
to improve management practices, becoming "mission driven" (Osborne &
Gaebler, 1992) goal oriented, and results driven in order to restore the
confidence and support of their constituencies.
The North Central Accreditation Association identified the lack of a
shared vision and low goal consensus as serious management problems at the
Navajo Community College (NCC). Moreover, this accrediting agency
indicated that a lack of goals and direction contributed to NCC's inability to
present a united front to the Navajo Tribal Council and federal agencies (their
funding sources), resulting in a loss of handing. In their 1990 site visit report,
the evaluation team noted the lack of agreement among NCC's faculty and
administrators concerning tne relative importance ot-a wiae array or proposed
activities. The Committee further indicated that while all of these activities
may be appropriate, there was a disparity between the college's stated mission
as a single entity and its apparent mission reflected in the programs and
activities at the three campuses. This has been a serious management issue at
many community colleges that have attempted "to be all things to all people"
(Coyan, 1985. p. 2) producing a diffusion of purpose and direction.
It can be argued that in an environment of declining revenues and acute
resource scarcity, there is less tolerance for divergent perspectives (Dess.
1987). If this is true at NCC, it would suggest a clear tie to the goal-setting
literature, because goals so often direct an organization's planning processes
(Pearce & David, 1987); they enable the organization "to get more mileage out
of the resources" (Hodgkinson, 1989, p.25) available to it. Furthermore,
Osborne and Gaebler (1992, p. 25) suggest in Reinventing Government that
"clear goals are critical to the success of schools."
The lack of goal clarity and goal focus continues as a serious problem
for most community colleges, which are expected to address the remedial and
employment training needs of its students. Peterson and Uhl (1977) state that
setting and prioritizing goals within a multi-campus system is one of the most
challenging problems for institutions. This is particularly true for the Navajo
Community College in its attempts to address the complex socio-cultural
issues of the Navajo student and their remedial educational needs. Huitt
(1988) indicates that approximately 70% of NCC's entering students "score
below college level on reading, writing, or mathematics and are initially
enrolled in at least one developmental studies course" (p. 71).
Further data compiled by the Navajo Community College in 1993 in
An Academic Facilities Needs Report indicate that:
50.9% of school age Navajo citizens are school drop-outs
50.1% of the Navajo labor force is unemployed
70.9% of the Navajo population is not working
$2,414 is the per capita income of the Navajo Nation
49.7% of the Navajo population is given poverty status
98% of the Navajo population is unskilled (pp. 5, 6)
26% of NCC's 1991 enrollment had no high school diploma or
G.E.D. (p. 25)
According to Navajo Nation school board directors, Navajo high
school graduates are reading at the sixth grade level. One school board
director said that many Navajo youth have limited language ability' in both the
Navajo and English languages and limited understanding of either culture. He
described two slightly overlapping circles, one circle representing the English
language and culture, and the other, the Navajo language and culture. He said
that many Navajo youth, alienated from their own culture, live and
communicate within the limitations of the overlapping circles, proficient in
neither language, and grounded in neither culture. He explained this
phenomenon as a result of years of living in remote, rural areas with
occasional visits to Denver, Albuquerque or Phoenix where Navajo youth see
the attractive products and surface of Anglo culture without understanding the
substance of the culture.
He further explained that Navajos under thirty years of age. raised in
geographic isolation and exposed to television, do not use the traditional Navajo
language but have developed a kind of hybrid mixture of limited Navajo and
English -- a language which he claims is limited to a few nouns without
adjectives or adverbs that facilitate understanding of concepts and
communication For these reasons, Navajo youth need to develop a sound
footing preferably in both cultures, but at least in one culture. For those
students desiring post-secondary education, identity, self esteem and remedial
educational needs are major issues that need to be addressed when they enter
NCC. Pressures to meet future educational needs in a rapidly advancing
technological society, while addressing the more immediate development
needs of its students, are significantly greater for the Navajo Community
College than for the general population.
Cetron and Davies (1989) contend that "by the turn of the century,
vocational training will be just as crucial as the traditional pre-college
program" (p.49) and that institutions will continually need to eliminate
traditional obsolete programs in response to current needs of the marketplace.
Cross and Fideler (1989) point to the changing mission of the community'
college. They indicate that the shift from traditional machine and shop trades
to specialized high technology trades and massive restructuring of the U.S.
work environment require institutions to examine their purpose, goals and
priorities. Goal-setting practices linked to current student needs that lead to
goal consensus and goal focus are essential in this process (Miles, 1965).
Site of the Study
The Navajo Community College (NCC) multi- campus system was
chosen as the site of the study because it offers an opportunity to study goal-
setting in a sub-cultural organizational setting outside the mainstream U S.
culture. Additionally, this study can contribute information to a public
institution in its attempts to strengthen its goal-setting process.
The Navajo Community College (NCC) was established in 1968 under
the Navajo Community College Assistance Act. Public Law 89-192. as the
first tribal controlled community college to receive federal funding. NCC is
governed by a nine-member Board of Regents. The institution's organizational
chart is included as Appendix A. The college cites its mission statement in its
1993-94 catalog as follows:
Navajo Community College was established to meet the educational
needs of the Navajo people. As the only academic post-secondary
institution chartered by the Navajo Nation Council, the College offers
two-year programs according to the needs of the Navajo Nation. The
mission is to:
Develop the character of the individual students...
Prepare Students for Jobs and Further Studies...
Promote and Perpetuate Navajo Language and Culture...
Provide Community Services and Research...(p. 6) (See
The Navajo Community College system serves the entire Navajo
Nation and consists of three campuses: the Tsaile campus, the Shiprock
campus and the Community Campus. The campus in Tsaile. Arizona, located
47 miles north of Window Rock. Arizona on the Arizona/New Mexico border
has 35 full-time faculty and 557 (467 full-time) students. The Shiprock
Campus, in the Northwest comer of Arizona has 18 full-time faculty and
approximately 456 (264 full-time) students. The Community Campus
Program serving the communities of Crown Point, New Mexico, and Window-
Rock, Ganada Chinle and Tuba City in Arizona has 1,005 (140 full-time)
students. The college provides educational opportunities for the Navajo
Nation's population. Currently, there are approximately 200,000 Navajos
living on the reservation. 49,000 are in kindergarten through the twelfth grade
(Tsosie, 1993). Although the Navajo Community College is the only
secondary institution in the Navajo Nation and depends on funds from the
Nation, it is not a line item in the tribal budget. Its funding from the Nation's
budget varies from year to year, and therefore, the college operates without a
An introductory site visit to the Navajo Nation in Window Rock and
the Navajo Community College in Tsaile, Arizona, was made in June. 1993.
During meetings with various people key to NCC's mission, members of the
Nation's executive staff, tribal leaders and school board directors emphasized
that NCC had an important role in helping their students assess what is
happening to their nation and to understand their potential role as tribal
Goal-setting theory, as well as organizational and work motivation
theories related to goal-setting, will guide the study. Current organization and
management scholars identify goal-setting as one of the most important
principles of management (Cunningham, 1992; Bubrick, 1992; Locke, 1991).
The theoretical framework draws on the normative literature in organizational
theory which either implicitly or explicitly prescribes participation and
consensus in goal-setting. Goal-setting theory, based on the principles of
Frederick Taylor's (1911) Principles of Scientific Management and premised
in contemporary work motivation theories, explores the factors that affect the
relationship between goals and action, or more specifically goals and task
performance (Locke & Latham, 1990).
Goal-setting is discussed throughout the history of organizational
theory, and goal-setting linked to task performance has been a dominant
subject in management literature for the past three decades. The research has
established that the presence of goals more positively affects performance than
the absence of goals (Locke, Shaw, Saari & Latham, 1981). and that specific
challenging goals result in higher performance than general goals. The
findings are inconclusive as to the effects of participation, goal acceptance,
goal commitment and other variables on performance. Pinder (1984) states
that studies linking goal-setting to performance have demonstrated more
scientific validity to date than any other theory of work motivation.
McConkie (1979), in his review of the literature on goal-setting, found
near agreement on nine characteristics of the goal-setting process and universal
agreement on three features: "...(a) that goals and objectives should be
specific: (b) that they should be defined in terms of measurable results: and (c)
that individual and organizational goals should be linked to one another" (p.
29). Current studies, however, suggest that challenging goals are more
important than specific goals, and that challenging goals will affect
performance even when goals are general (Chesney & Locke. 1991; Huber,
Relevance of the Study
Goal-setting research over the last thirty years has been rigorously
tested at the micro (individual and small group groups) level or at the macro
level in simulated organizations. The macro (organizational) level research
has been limited "due to the obvious difficulty of using controlled
experimental designs...and the greater difficulty of conducting studies at the
macro level of analysis" (Locke & Latham, 1990, p. 321). Managers are
naturally hesitant to open their doors to researchers and expose their
organizations to the scrutiny of outside research, and thus gaining access to
collect data in real life organizations is difficult. Locke and Latham (1990)
conclude that a significant contribution could be made by "designing
experimental studies of organizational goal-setting...especially for small
organizations headed by a willing entrepreneur" (p. 335). NCC, as a relatively
small organization, headed by a president willing to participate in a research
study, provides such an opportunity.
Despite the normative ideal professed by organizational scholars,
linking high levels of goal consensus to organizational performance (Ansoff.
1965; Bower & Doz, 1979), there is a dearth of empirical research on variables
related to goal consensus. Studies that have been conducted demonstrated
conflicting results (Whitney & Smith, 1983; Grinyer & Norbum 1977-78;
DeWoot, Heyvaert & Martou, 1977-78; Hrebiniak & Snow, 1980).
Furthermore, with the increasing diversity of the U. S. labor pool and
increased global exposure, managers need to understand more about goal-
setting in other cultural environments in order to integrate divergent
perspectives. For example, we know a great deal about how group
composition alters group dynamics, but most of our knowledge is based on
homogeneous samples (Bettenhausen, 1991).
The present study, therefore, extends goal-setting research by
investigating the effects of organizational participation on goal acceptance and
goal consensus within the cultural milieu of the Navajo Nation. Specifically,
the study responds to suggestions in the literature for further research in the
following areas by: (1) conducting research at the macro-level, that is, in a
real-life organization; (2) by using a causal comparative model in examining
the extent to which participation increases goal acceptance and goal
acceptance increases goal consensus and (3) by examining goal-setting outside
the mainstream Anglo culture (Locke & Latham, 1990).
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Despite the normative values in the literature linking participation to
goal acceptance and performance, the research findings are inconsistent on the
relationship between these variables. Indeed, these inconsistencies constitute
one of the most significant disputes in the goal-setting literature. A major
purpose of this literature review is to examine the "state of the field" regarding
goal-setting theory and the differences of opinion surrounding it.
The extensive research on goal-setting over the last thirty years has
focused on the micro (individual or small group) level, demonstrating that the
setting of specific, challenging goals, if accepted, leads to higher performance.
Few studies have been conducted at the macro (organizational) level.
Additionally, there are inconsistent findings among the studies on the effects
of moderating variables and proposed relationships between goal-setting and
Goal-setting research over the last thirty years has explored several
factors and relationships in the goal-setting-performance link, including
various levels of goal difficulty, vague versus specific goals, supervisor
support, time lag effects and assigned versus participatively set goals. While
some of these discussions are included to provide a broader view of the
research surrounding goal-setting, this study focuses on the importance of
participation, goal acceptance and consensus.
Locke, Shaw, Saari and Latham (1981) in their review of the research
found that "specific, hard goals produced better performance than medium,
easy, do-your-best, or no goals" (p. 111). While some authors link goal
acceptance to goal specificity (Salancik, 1977; Hollenbeck & Klein, 1987),
Locke, Chah, Harrison and Lustgarten (1989) argue that this is a
misinterpretation of the literature. Locke, Shaw, Saari and Latham contend
that while goal specificity and goal difficulty are generally related to higher
performance, that the relationship is not supported for goal specificity alone.
Furthermore, a positive relationship was found between vague, difficult goals
and performance (Locke, Mento & Katcher, 1978). Quinn (1980. p. 119)
extends the argument by claiming that "specific organizational goals can cause
undesired centralization." produce undesired levels of inflexibility and reduce
goal commitment. Locke (1968) further suggests that even vague goals, as
long as they are challenging, can lead to improved performance. There is
further evidence to suggest that one or more variables interact to moderate the
relationship between goal difficulty and task performance (Hollenbeck &
Klein. 1987). While some of the proposed relationships seem to have been
consistently reported, the evidence is less persuasive for others (Steers &
Porter, 1974; Latham & Yukl, 1975).
A broad analysis, frequently referred to in the literature as a "meta-
analysis" of participatory decision-making conducted by Miller and Monge
(1986) concludes that while participative goal-settings conditions generally
have not been found superior to assigned goal-setting conditions, participative
goal-setting is important for complex tasks. A more comprehensive analysis
conducted by Wagner and Gooding (1987) did not find benefits of
participative conditions over the assigned goal-setting conditions, however,
their study did not include the findings of Erez and her colleagues which were
conducted in the more collectivistic setting of Israeli, and which did find that
participatively set goals were more effective than assigned goals.
A major controversy in the goal-setting literature has been over the
effects of participation versus assigned goals on goal acceptance and
performance. The findings have been contradictory. Locke, Feren. McCab.
Shaw and Denny (1980) initially suggested that the reason the Endings on the
effects of participation on performance have been inconsistent is that the
causal mechanisms on performance are indirect and not understood. Locke
and Latham (1984) subsequently suggested that the effectiveness of assigned
goals is based on the ease with which goal acceptance or goal commitment is
obtained in most goal-setting studies. Most of the goal-setting studies,
however, were conducted in short term laboratory conditions. Tubbs (1986)
contends that the laboratory studies have not addressed the possibility that
subjects might be willing to accept and work for difficult, assigned goals if
they know it is for a short time.
Latham, Erez and Locke (1988) in their landmark study, joined in an
attempt to resolve the dispute. While Latham and his colleagues found no
significant differences between assigned or participatively set goals. Erez.
based on her findings and those of her colleagues, argued that "a goal is more
likely to be accepted when people have a voice in setting it rather than when it
is assigned to them" (Latham. Erez & Locke, p. 755). Again, the findings of
these studies regarding the effects of participatively set and assigned goals
resulted in an "it depends," conclusion (Locke & Schweiger, 1979), that is.
that culture might act as a moderator in the effect of participation on
; j The Concept and Role of Participation
The current restructuring of many organizations and corporations in
response to environmental dynamism is towards flattened, leaner structures
requiring an open or organic systems management approach. The organic
| system is characterized by a continuous reassessment of tasks with a value and
j emphasis placed on networks of expertise and information rather than on
| j hierarchial authority and control (Bums & Stalker, 1961). The executive's role
j in this information age is leadership based on influence rather than on control
j (Fechter & Horowitz, 1988). Because clear lines of the executive's authority
I are often blurred in the contemporary organization, there is an increased need
for information at all levels of the organization, making it necessary to
understand and utilize group participation processes. Participatory
management is based on the premise that employees closest to the job and to
the customer have valuable information, experience and knowledge (Lindsay,
j Curtis & Manning, 1989). Furthermore, participation is suggested as a means
I to overcome resistance to change, and as a method of involving members in
identifying potential pitfalls and barriers to implementation (Cummings &
Participatory decision-making is often mistakenly referred to as if it
were a single construct despite the fact that different types and different stages
of participation and conditions necessary to make it work are discussed
throughout the literature. Nichols (1989), for example, suggests eight types of
employee participation ranging from minimal participation through suggestion
boxes to full participation in goal-setting, and profit sharing. A review of
ninety-one articles further identifies six classifications of participatory
decision-making including: 1. participation in work design, 2. consultative
participation, 3. short term participation, 4. informal participation, 5. employee
ownership and 6. representative participation" (Cotton, Vollraith. Froggatt,
Lengnick-Hall, & Jennings, 1988). Cotton, et al, suggest that the different
forms of participation have different outcomes. For example, they indicate
that informal participation and employee ownership are effective in increasing
productivity and job satisfaction, while short-term participation is ineffective
in both areas.
Sashkin's (1984, 1986) argument, that participation is a moral
imperative claiming that participation improves productivity, does little to
advance our understanding of participation. Furthermore. Locke, Schweiger
and Latham (1986) refute Sashkin's claim, stating that while participation may
improve productivity, it does not consistently have this effect. Furthermore,
they state the effective use of participation requires an understanding of the
related factors that make it work. They further suggest that several factors
work against the successful implementation of participatory management
particularly at the lower levels of the organization where line supervisors have
less time to spend in talking activities. Additionally, line supervisors often
lack the verbal and interpersonal communication skills required for
participatory management. Another threat to participatory management is the
possibility that line workers often perceive the introduction of participatory
practices as a manipulative strategy to induce them to work harder (Zawaki &
According to Locke, Schweiger and Latham, to make participatory
management work, motivational and cognitive factors are most important.
The motivational factors include trust, greater control of the work,
more ego involvement on the job, increased identification with the
organization, more group support (if it is group participation) and most
important, the setting of higher goals and or increased goal acceptance.
The cognitive factors include upward communication, better utilization
of information and better understanding of the job by employees and
the rationale underlying decisions (p.69).
Additionally. Margulies and Black (1987) suggest that effective
implementation of participatory management practices, such as goal-setting
depends, on the presence of the following variables in an organization:
1. knowledge/skills, 2. leader confidence in subordinates, 3. employees'
individual needs for participation, 4. general desire to participate, 5.
time, 6. instrumentality of participation, 7. valence of participation
outcomes, 8 expectations of legitimacy of participation and 9. status
level (Margulies & Black, 1987, p. 385).
Additionally, three critical support factors need to be considered:" 1. the
strength of upper management support, 2. the level of first line management
skills and 3. the adequacy of employee training" (Lindsay, Curtis, & Manning,
1989, p. 78.) Kanter (1982) further suggests that participation is appropriate
under the following circumstances:
...to allow those who feel they know something about the subject to get
involved, to build consensus on a controversial issue, to allow more
wide-ranging or creative discussion/solutions, to balance or confront
vested interests in the face of the need to change and to address
conflicting approaches or views (p. 6).
Thus, implementing participatory management is not simply a matter
of introducing a process into a traditionally hierarchial environment; it requires
a new organizational culture that brings everyone from the supplier and line
workers to management into a "partnering" production process (Simmons,
1989). Simmons indicates that Ford's productivity in the late 1980's increased
28% using the partnering strategy. Their experience in implementing full
corporate participation indicated the need for: 1. chief executive officer
commitment, 2. middle management trust and respect, 3. openness and
integration, 4. external assistance, 5. transformation of old relationships and 6.
a continual focus on the customer. Akel and Siegel (1988) summarize the
importance of understanding the underlying principles and assumptions related
to participatory management by indicating that participatory management is a
management attitude rather than a short term strategy, requiring long term
management commitment. Mohrman and Ledford (1985) in their case study
of participation groups at nine plants of a major corporation, found that
successful group participation depended on:
1. employees' access to the skills and knowledge needed for
participation, 2. use of formal and systematic procedures, 3. integration
with the horizontal and vertical organizational structures and 4.
implementation as a regular organizational function rather than as a
special entity (p.413).
They emphasize the need for a supportive organizational climate that
encourages the learning of new skills by both managers and employees to
make participation work.
Another factor considered important in participatory decision-making
is the phase in w'hich it is introduced. Koopman, Pieter and Drendth (1981) in
their study of three Dutch organizations, defined four decision-making stages:
"start-up, development finalisation [sic], and implementation" (p. 9). The
findings of their study suggest that involving workers in the early decision-
making stages results in higher goal acceptance than involvement at later
The influence of participatory decision-making has been discussed
throughout organizational literature (Coch & French. 1948; Lewin, 1951;
Drucker, 1954, 1958; Vroom, 1964; Vroom & Yetton, 1973 & Jessup, 1991).
Much of the discussion has centered on the perceived importance of the goal:
that is. people are more likely to accept a goal when it is perceived to be under
their control (Hannan. 1975; Thompson. 1981) and therefore more important
to them than a goal externally imposed (Erez & Kanfer, 1983). Erez and
Kanfer indicate that some sense of control over the goal is necessary' to satisfy
an individual's need for a sense of mastery and personal competence
(deCharms. 1968) and that a perceived threat to a person's sense of control
may result in non-compliance.
It is generally accepted that individuals are more likely to comply with
an assignment if they understand what is involved (Barnard. 1938: Latham.
Erez & Locke, 1988) and that participation is an effective means to achieve
improved understanding of the task. According to Erez and Kanfer. early
learning theories link improved student performance with the student being
given a choice of material (Liem, 1975; Perlmutter, Monty & Kimble. 1971;
Savage. Perlmutter & Monty (1979). Other studies cited by Erez and Kanfer
found that choice and self-control were effective in reducing symptoms of
stress and anxiety (Mandler & Watson, 1966) and in increasing pain tolerance
(Avia & Kanfer, 1980; Glass and Singer, 1972; Kanfer & Seidner, 1973;
Lieberkind & Paul, 1977; Miller, 1980; Thompson, 1981; Turk, 1978).
Others argue individual choice or participation in goal-setting is no
more effective than directive tasks or assigned goals, and that participatory
management does little to raise productivity. In fact, there is an argument that
in some cases participation programs may even weaken workers' control
(Fantasia. Clawson & Graham, 1988) because they weaken unions' capacity to
represent workers. This criticism, however, appears to be directed to design
and implementation problems rather than ideological.
Carroll and Tosi (1970), using a measure of perceived participation in
a survey in a manufacturing firm as part of an MBO program, found no
correlation between employee participation and increased effort. Similarly.
Ivancevich (1976, 1977), in his investigation of differences between
participative and assigned goal-setting conditions found no significant
differences between the two conditions. Furthermore, Locke and Schweiger
(1979) in their extensive review of the literature found "no consistent
differences between top down decision-making and employee participation
and performance" (p. 137). Locke, Shaw, Saari and Latham (1981). point out
that there was no attempt to measure changes in the quality of performance as
goal levels increased in difficulty. Their analysis was based on findings that
difficult, challenging goals lead to higher performance particularly at the micro
(individual and small groups) levels. This created some confusion given that
earlier testing of the difference in effectiveness between participatory and
assigned goal-setting conditions found no significant differences between
these two goal-setting conditions when goal difficulty levels were held
constant (Dossett Latham & Mitchell, 1979).
The origins of goal-setting research are found in the early works of
Lewin (1943, 1947, 1951) and were based on the assumption that participation
in goal-setting was crucial to achieve goal acceptance or commitment and
improved performance (Latham, Erez & Locke, 1988). Lewin was also one of
the first scholars to talk about the participation consensus link, hypothesizing
that one of the motivational aspects of participation was the achievement of
consensus. The underlying value in the early research is that it showed
participation is an effective employee motivational strategy and a mechanism
to reduce employee resistance to change (Coch & French, 1948). The findings
of the Coch and French experiment in a pajama manufacturing plant found that
increased productivity was related to employees' participation in planning the
change of work methods.
The Coch and French study deserves special attention because it is
considered a classic study in the research on participatory management. The
work involved four different groups of pajama factory workers who were paid
on a piece rate basis. The groups were matched for job performance ratings
and group cohesiveness. A proposed work change modifying existing work
procedures was introduced into each group. For the first group, a "no
participation" method was introduced. Workers were simply informed about
the change and were given reasons for the change. A representative
participation method was used for the second group in which a selected person
communicated to management, the group's ideas and recommendations
regarding the proposed change. For the third and fourth groups, full
participation was employed, involving all group members in designing the
change in work methods. The most significant findings of this research were
the results between Group 1. the "no participation" group, and Groups 3 and 4.
The performance rate for Group 1 immediately dropped to about two-thirds of
its previous goal. The full participation Groups 3 and 4, however, initially
showed a drop in performance with rapid recovery exceeding the performance
rates prior to the introduction of the work change methods.
While recognizing that the Coch and French (1948) study was one of
the stronger experiments in field studies. Bartlem and Locke (1981) suggest
that the Coch and French findings are more related to reducing employee
resistance to change than to productivity. Bartlem and Locke conclude that
the participatory conditions in the Coch and French study were weak in that
they were limited to minor suggestions about work method changes. They
further suggest that the experimenters' instructions regarding the need for
change in job methods at the plant were vague, which could have contributed
to worker anxiety and to the existing mistrust of management, causing the
assigned goal-setting group to resist the goals to change job methods.
Sashkin (1984) challenges the criticism of Bartlem and Locke,
however, indicating that what they considered limited participation in the
Harwood pajama factory in the 1940's later pervaded the organizational culture
at the Harwood plant, and thus participation did, in fact, have the impact that
Coch and French described. Sashkin (1984) concludes that participatory
management practices not only take more time initially to involve executives,
managers and workers, but that the positive effects of these practices take
some time to mature, and are therefore difficult to measure in short term
experimental conditions. Kotter (1982) supports Sashkin's position, affirming
that gaining goal commitment or acceptance among managers to a single set of
goals can take years of effort, negotiations and coalition building.
Participation and Goal Acceptance
Several studies indicate that participation in goal-setting is an effective
strategy for increasing goal acceptance. The assertion of Erez and Kanfer
(1983) that a participatively set goal increases goal acceptance has been
supported in the research by Earley (1985), Earley and Kanfer (1985), Erez,
Earley and Hulin (1985), Erez (1986), and Erez and Arad (1986).
Erez, Earley and Hulin (1985) in their experiment involving two goal
study conditions, hypothesized a two-step model:
participation 1> acceptance 2> performance,
and "sought to determine whether goal acceptance and performance are
positively related, and whether participative goal-setting is a means of
enhancing goal acceptance" (pp. 50-51). They found that participation in goal-
setting resulted in higher goal acceptance than did the process of assigning
goals to employees, and that goal acceptance contributed to performance.
They further found that the participatory group set and accepted a highly
difficult goal, whereas when the same goals were given to the assigned goal-
setting groups, goal acceptance scores were lower than the goal acceptance
scores of the participatory groups. The results of their study suggest that
participation increases performance through its influence on goal acceptance.
Erez, et al. (1985) indicate that the degree of participants' goal
acceptance is a major factor in determining the effectiveness of participation
versus assigned goals. When goal acceptance is held constant, there is no
difference in participants' performance between the two goal-setting
conditions. Their study's findings indicate that "as goal acceptance increases,
the influence of goal-setting upon performance also increases" (Erez, et al.,
1985, p. 65). Supporting Erez. Earley and Hulin's findings, Pearson (1987)
found that participation enhanced goal acceptance in his longitudinal study of
railway track maintenance engineers.
Locke and Latham (1984) point out that while goal acceptance occurs
in the absence of participation, what is important is the effect of participation
on goal acceptance in an organizational climate where there is resistance to
goals. As Erez and Kanfer (1983. p. 458) indicate, one would not expect to
find differences between goal-setting conditions, such as the participatory
versus assigned conditions, "when goal acceptance is already high because it is
just such acceptance that participation aims to produce." This is supported in
the early works of Lewin (1943, 1951), who suggested that participation in
decision-making and goal-setting are effective strategies to cope with low goal
While most of the studies have identified goal acceptance as the
dependent variable or intervening variable between participation and
performance, suggesting that participation influences goal acceptance and that,
in turn, goal acceptance influences performance, the model proposed in the
current study identifies goal acceptance as the dependent or intervening
variable between participation and consensus. On the other hand, Robey and
Altman (1982) suggest that it is goal consensus that influences goal acceptance
or goal commitment. That is, that the independent variable of participation
influences the dependent variable of goal acceptance through the intervening
variable of goal consensus. Tjosvold and Field (1983), in their investigation
of this link involving four groups of university students, further found that
group participation in reaching a consensus facilitated the group's acceptance
of the decision.
Social. Motivational and Cognitive Factors
Erez and Arad (1986) explored social, motivational and cognitive
explanations of why participation may lead to performance among part time
Israeli university students. They explained that the social-psychological and
motivational mechanisms were identified as "group consensus, involvement in
goal-setting, commitment to public decisions and involvement in group
discussion" and that the cognitive mechanism involved greater information
sharing about the goal which is particularly important for complex tasks (p.
591). Their results indicated that social, motivational and cognitive factors of
participation increased performance and goal commitment. Conversely, as it
regards the motivational factor of participation, Dossett, Cela. Greenberg and
Adrian (1983) in their study regarding supervisory supportiveness, found that
participation for motivational reasons is unimportant if goal acceptance is held
constant. One of the difficulties in examining motivational factors of
participation is defining or isolating "motivation." Erez and Arad (1986.
p. 592) defined the motivational factor as "involvement in goal-setting", and
then manipulated the level of involvement subjects had in setting goals. It is
unclear however, how this definition differs from the social factor or how the
manipulation measures the presence or absence of motivation.
High levels of goal acceptance at all levels of the implementing
organizations were considered an essential factor in the success of World Bank
international development projects (Israel, 1987). It has not been possible,
however, to establish a clear causality between high levels of goal acceptance
and performance. The Bank's experience, in fact, suggests multicollinearity
among factors, as projects for which there is greater initial commitment very
often receive the best managers and are "better protected from negative
exogenous factors" (Israel, 1987, p.41).
Erez and Earley (1987) indicate that the contingency approach "relating
cultural values to management practices suggests that the use as well as the
effectiveness of participation is influenced by the norms prevalent in a society
(p. 658). Several studies based on the contingency approach relating cultural
values to participatory' goal-setting were conducted by Erez and her colleagues.
Erez (1986) measured congruence between goal-setting strategies and cultural
values in three organizational settings in Israel and found that the effectiveness
of participative goal-setting depends on the cultural context in which it occurs.
Her study further found that participation was effective in the kibbutz setting
recognized for its collectivistic, participative values; that representative goal-
setting, which is another form of participatory goal-setting, worked in a public
Histradrut (trade union) setting; and that assigned goal-setting was effective in
the private setting. Although the private setting was responsive to assigned
goal-setting conditions, all three groups were favorable to the participatory
conditions, which is consistent with the collectivistic cultural values found in
A second study conducted by Erez and Earley (1987) examined three
goal-setting conditions within three different cultural groups (i.e. U S.
students, Israeli urban students and Israeli students from kibbutzim),
specifically looking for the effect of cultural values on the relationship of goal-
setting strategies, goal acceptance and performance. They found that
participative goal-setting led to higher levels of goal acceptance for all three
groups, thus initially appearing to indicate that culture is a weak moderator in
the effect of participation on goal acceptance and performance. Their further
analysis, however, revealed that the Israeli subjects outperformed the U.S.
subjects in the participative conditions, and that the U.S. samples performance
was higher than the Israeli sample in the assigned goal-setting conditions.
They also found that the relationship of goal acceptance to performance was
stronger for the two Israeli samples. Erez and Earley (1987) concluded that:
... some aspect of culture moderated the relation between acceptance
and performance. The high relation between the motivational response
of acceptance and the behavioral response of performance for the
Israeli rather than the American subjects seems to reflect some type of
cultural differences (p. 664).
Latham, Erez and Locke (1988) in their attempts to resolve the dispute
between Latham and Erez regarding their different findings on the
effectiveness of participation on goal acceptance and performance found no
relationship for participation on goal commitment or performance in four
separate experiments. They pointed out that Latham and Erez had used
different methodological approaches in the previous studies. Specifically, they
felt the experimenters' styles and variations in instructions were the major
reasons for the different results. They point out that everything researchers do
during the experiment is not always indicated in the article, probably because
the researchers themselves are initially unaware of their own behavior
differences during the experiments.
Latham, Erez and Locke (1988) concluded that whereas the subjects of
their four experiments, American college students, showed no preference
between participative and assigned goal-setting practices, cultural value
differences are an important factor in "determining the effectiveness of
participation inasmuch as such effects have already been found by Erez"
(p.787). Drawing on Hofstede's (1980a, 1980b) research, Erez (1986) and
Erez and Earley (1987) hypothesized that the cultural differences in
individualistic versus collectivistic values in the U.S. and Israel would
influence the effects of participation. For example, Erez and Earley (1987)
indicate that American workers will generally commit themselves to assigned
goals, a phenomenon which is consistent with the strong individualistic
orientation of the American culture. This finding is supported by Hofstede's
(1980a) study. According to Hofstede, this is because Americans are more
interested in competing for or achieving a goal than participating in setting it.
Erez and Earley further indicated that the few studies that did find a difference
between participatory and assigned goal-setting conditions in the U.S.
involved tasks of sufficient complexity so that American subjects did not
originally accept goals in the assigned conditions. This suggests that under
extreme conditions of task difficulty, participation in goal-setting may be more
effective than assigned goals with U.S.workers in increasing goal acceptance,
and thus performance.
Participation and Organization Culture
The concept of organization culture as used in this study refers to the
organization's informal system (French & Bell, 1972) which includes the work
norms, the feelings, the belief systems, and the values and informal actions
which are the invisible or hidden aspects of the organization. Although
organization culture is not a focus of this study, it is too important a dimension
in the current organizational literature to ignore. Furthermore, it is the
organization culture or informal systems that determines the organization's
climate, where its values and norms toward participation prevail. In fact. Hall
and Foster (1977) suggest that the organization's climate may be a moderator
of the goal-performance relationship that is goals may lead to performance
only in relatively supportive environments. It is in goal-setting in particular,
that support is important for participatory practices to be effective. White
(1972) in his study of U.S. federal agencies, found that in goal-setting, the
weakest managers were the most autocratic.
It is suggested that organization culture formulation occurs over time
through leadership behavior that either implicitly or explicitly instills values,
attitudes and beliefs in the minds of employees (Schein, 1983). Three
significant factors of leadership that affect an organization's culture are: what
leaders pay attention to; leader reaction to critical events; and role modeling by
leaders (Isaac, 1993). Isaac further cites several other mechanisms from the
literature, that either directly or indirectly influence the organization's culture,
Criteria utilized for making selection and promotion
decisions (Schein, 1983)
Organizational reward systems, criteria for
reinforcement and punishment and their application
consistent with organizational priorities (Pascale, 1984)
Extensiveness of teamwork and the degree of trust and
support displayed by member (Akin & Hopelain, 1987)
Organizational rites relating to status and role changes,
personal recognition. loss of power, social facilitation
and other issues (Beyer & Trice, 1987)
Technology and structure (Pennings & Gresov, 1986)
Cultural symbols, language, gestures, stories, legends,
folk tales, and myths (Beyer & Trice, 1987)
Organizational structure, systems, and procedures
The physical design of the work environment (Schein.
Herman (1974) used the concept of the organizational iceberg, as
shown in Figure 2.1, to illustrate the two organizational levels. His illustration
suggests that the organization's formal system or overt system which explicitly
defines the way an organization is supposed to work is actually the smaller
unit of analysis of the total organizational system. The informal, hidden
system incorporates the personal and interpersonal processes that determine
how the system actually works.
Traditionally, the organization's informal system was ignored or only
partially examined with the major emphasis on the organization's formal
system its goals, organizational charts, reporting systems, procedures,
technologies and physical resources. Since the 1970's, organization
development practitioners have become interested in both the formal and
informal systems, although their early intervention efforts are through the
informal system. Specifically, organization development efforts emphasize
organization and work team processes, the work team as the key
FORMAL (OVERT) ASPECTS:
j Organizational iceberg. (Adapted from an address by Stanley N.Herman. TRW Systems, at
| an organization development conference sponsored jointly by the Industrial Relations
j Management Associanon of British Columbia and NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral
j Science. Vancouver, B.C.. Columbia. 1970). In Keith Davis (1974) Organization
I Behavior. New York: McGraw Hill. p. 182. (Used by permission of McGraw-Hill. Inc.)
unit for learning, collaborative management of work team culture and human
and social relationships (French & Bell, 1972).
There have been unsuccessful attempts in the implementation of
participatory management practices by managers who think this is another
method of getting workers "to think they 'want' to do as they are told as a
sure way of putting sugar on a bitter pill" (Lawrence, 1970, p. 184). Thus,
participation is more than a mechanical strategy to suddenly involve people.
People respond more to overall treatment which respects their dignity and self
worth, rather than some artificial stratagem of being called to a meeting to go
through the motions of participating in what may have already been decided.
The concept that participatory management is an effective strategy for
gaining compliance with a predetermined management decision was widely
used in the 1950's, and survives today. Research since the Coch and French
study indicates that participation, to be successful, must be based on a genuine
interest in gaining employees involvement in the decision-making process
U. S. managers, in the 1980's, attempted to emulate Japanese
management practices (Ouchi. 1981) by implementing quality control
programs "as an easy plug-in panacea" (Beardsley, 1988, p. 38). Although
participatory management has been widely acclaimed in Japan where the
"ringi" system is used, Yoshino (1968) and Whitehall and Takezawa (1968)
suggest that this is an artificial or ceremonial participation where various
managers affix their seal of approval on a predetermined decision. Hall and
Hall (1987), however, indicate that the "ringi" system is a much more
complicated and integral component of Japan's complex cultural system. The
ringi system is a collective decision-making process which is not only
designed to allow everyone involved a role in reviewing, evaluating and
approving or disapproving any goal or action, but to also maintain harmony
and to present a united front which is essential to the Japanese society.
The Role of Goal Consensus
The lack of attention in the research to the consensus model is
surprising given the extensive attention to consensus in the normative
literature which emphasizes the importance of consensus as the product of a
successful strategic planning process (Ansoff, 1965; Andrews, 1971; Bovver
& Doz, 1979). This position is strengthened by the fact that some level of
agreement among managers on priority of goals (Hofer & Schendel. 1978) is
suggested throughout the planning literature. McGregor (1960), for example.
contends that the organizational performance will be greater when the
organization's goals are shared by all. Etzioni (1964) further suggests that
goal consensus demonstrates communication and that communication within
the organization has a positive impact on the efficiency and health of the
organization. Nielson (1981) assumes the importance of consensus,
contending that managers cannot justify or limit themselves to "satisficing,"
nor can they require optimization when dealing with many constituencies but
must balance both approaches in building consensus. In fact, the goal-setting
model to reach goal consensus is often used by organization development
practitioners to raise commitment and motivation to achieve a goal. This is
because team goal-setting helps clarify the goals and establish group norms
supporting goal commitment (Huse, 1982).
Regardless of the argument in research regarding the role of consensus,
there is indication that U.S. management recognizes its importance (Vroom &
Yetton 1973; Boyatzes, 1982; Peters & Waterman, 1982; Vroom & Jago,
1988; & Vilere & Hartman, 1991). A recent survey found that only eight of
ninety-eight executives indicated through a survey that consensus was not
important (Priem, 1990). Furthermore, the executives' responses to the open
ended question "How is consensus achieved in your organization?" generally
indicated the use of consensus building processes in most industries (Priem.
1990. p. 476).
Tjosvold and Field (1983), in comparing the effects of competitive and
cooperative contexts, found that the group in the cooperative context reached
consensus through group discussion, whereas the competitive group reached a
decision by voting. Their results indicated that the consensus group
demonstrated greater commitment and showed more understanding of the
Bourgeois (1980) found that top management teams in high
performing firms agreed on a narrow range of operable goals and disagreed on
less tangible goals. Bourgeois explains disagreement on goals among high
performing firms by their surfeit of resources which allows them to pursue
multiple goal choices. In other w'ords, the success enjoyed by these firms
provides sufficient resources to simultaneously pursue the different goal
directions of various constituencies. Bourgeois concludes that the goal-setting
process should not concentrate efforts on attempting to agree on too many
goals, but rather should concentrate on agreeing on selected goals for which
targets can be established.
Opposing arguments contend, however, that consensus can be
counterproductive, producing a kind of "group think" syndrome (Janis, 1972).
Yet another view of the consensus-performance link is that the "hidden
agenda" of goals can be surfaced through an exploitation of "corridors of
indifference" (Lindbloom, 1959; Wrapp, 1967) when consensus is not present.
It is further suggested that certain levels of disagreement during the planning
process can contribute to an organization's exhaustive and integrative planning
process (Dess, 1987), but the process should eventually lead to consensus
(Wooldridge & Floyd, 1989). Thus controversy is not inconsistent with
consensus as an end result, but rather a phase of the consensus process (Fisher.
1980). In fact, Hall (1982) argues that divergent opinions are encouraged and
addressed during the consensus process and that this process results in a higher
quality of solutions to which members are committed addressed.
Schweiger, Sandberg and Ragan (1986) conducted the first
experimental controlled study to assess the comparative effectiveness of the
dialectical inquiry, devil's advocacy and consensus in a group context. Their
results suggest that while the conflict mode of decision-making produced
higher quality recommendations, that the consensus decision-making groups
produced greater group satisfaction and acceptance of their group's decision.
Fisher (1980) agrees that goal dissonance serves an important function
during the consensus process, which he says has four phases orientation,
conflict, emergence and reinforcement, leading to consensus. He further
indicates that the greater the disagreement during the consensus process, the
greater will be the goal consensus at its conclusion. Dess and Origer (1987)
contend that it is reasonable to assume that individual perspectives that have
moved closer over time will remain closer, and "that measures of performance
will be related more strongly to measures of shared perspectives since both
evolved concomitantly" (p.318). Furthermore, Locke and Latham (1990) state
that goal conflict is the norm at the macro organizational level, where
"various coalitions attempt to influence the choice of organizational goals"
(p.327). This bargaining process on organizational goals. Cyert and March
(1963) contend is forged over time by the coalitions.
Again, despite the normative beliefs, the research findings are
inconsistent with regard to the relationship of consensus and performance.
Stagners (1969) pioneer study on consensus in organizations found no
agreement on goals among the top management teams in 109 firms. Grinyer
and Norbum (1977-78) even found a negative relationship between goal
consensus and performance in 21 British companies in 13 different industries.
Similar findings were obtained by DeWoot. Heyvaert and Martou (1977-78) in
their study of 168 Belgian firms. Tjosvold and Field (1983), however, in their
study involving four groups of university students found that there was greater
commitment in the consensus groups.
Priem (1990) proposed a model suggesting that the consensus
performance relationship is moderated by environmental dynamism. Drawing
on Schoonhaven's (1981, p. 354) "maximizing theory", Priem suggests that
while higher levels of goal consensus will be associated with higher
performance in a stable environment, that lower levels of goal consensus will
be associated with higher performance in a dynamic environment.
Dess (1987), in his study of 19 nondiversified firms, found a positive
relationship between organizational performance and consensus on "company
objectives." St. John and Rue (1991) in their investigation of consensus on
key competitive strengths, company goals and action plans found that seven
out of eight award winning firms demonstrated strong evidence that consensus
between marketing and manufacturing goals is related to high levels of
performance. This study further suggests a relationship between consensus
and the use of planning processes and coordinating mechanisms.
Coordinating mechanisms included the companies' strategies for employee
participation and involvement, such as informal and formal communication
processes, meetings, committees and task forces.
Dess (1987) argued that the most serious limitation of previous research
was the disregard for the heterogeneity of the industry environment in which
the studies were conducted. Dess controlled for this variable by conducting
his study in 19 non-diversified firms competing in the same industry. He also
pointed to definitional problems in previous research although operational
definitions of goal consensus appear to be consistent in the goal consensus
research (Priem, 1990). Wooldridge and Floyd (1989, pp. 296) indicate that
the weakness in previous studies is not due to differences in operational
definitions, but in the conceptual definition which describes consensus as
"shared understandings about ends and means." They further suggest that
understanding goals "without commitment may result in 'counter effort' and
negatively effect performance... A high degree of consensus is achieved when
both understanding and commitment are high" (Wooldridge & Floyd. 1989.
Macro and Micro Goal-Setting Research
Organization behaviorists, whose subjects are the individual or small
groups, have focused on micro goal-setting research using quantitative,
experimental approaches. Macro goal-setting research, using both quantitative
and qualitative methods, has been the interest of organizational and strategic
theorists whose focus has been the organization as a whole (Locke and
Latham, 1990). Most of the research, and thus most of the evidence on the
effects of participation, come from research at the micro level. Locke and
Latham suggest that:
it is possible that the micro studies have been completely on the wrong
track and that participation used properly might work better at the
macro level...where the tasks, goals and strategies are highly complex,
cognitive input from many sources may have substantial impact
They further hypothesize that organizations of the future which encourage
employee participation will become more effective and achieve higher levels
of goal consensus than those which do not. This is so because as
organizations become more diverse with greater representation of people
from collectivistic cultures, participatory strategies will become more
Cross-Cultural Implications in Goal-Setting
The impact of socio-cultural values on management practices has been
noted by French, Israel and As (1960), Peterson (1972), Hofstede (1980a,
1980b, 1991), and Erez (1986). For example, Peterson found statistically
significant differences by cultural groupings in managerial attitudes.
Peterson's study involving 571 chief executive officers in over 42 countries
measured six managerial altitudinal factors, three of which related to
participatory management as follows:
whether successful leaders direct subordinates in exactly what they
should do..., whether successful leaders should involve as many people
as possible in making important decisions..., and whether major policy-
decisions made by committees are superior to those made by chief
executives alone (pp. 150-151).
The findings of this study, by cultural groupings, indicate that the Asian
and Latin American societies favored directing subordinates, and at the same
time favored participatory management practices, whereas Western
industrialized societies favored more general supervisory strategies and were
neutral as it regards participatory management values. Muczyk and Reimann
(1987) add that while participatory or democratic management may not work
in some situations, directive management is not inconsistent with
participation. To explain this point, they describe four leadership styles, one of
which is the "directive democrat" who allows full participation while closely
supervising the execution of assignment tasks.
Tannenbaum, Kavcic, Rosner, Vianello and Wieser (1974), in their
study of management practices in five countries found that participatory
management practices used in socialist European plants had to be adapted for
privately run plants. They concluded that the cultural setting incorporates a
commitment to particular management values.
Erez (1986) and Erez and Earley (1987) examined the effects of
participation on goal acceptance and performance within cross-cultural
settings in the United States and Israel. The purpose of these studies was to
test the moderating effects of socio-cultural values on the relationship between
these variables. Drawing on Hofstede's (1980a) research, they hypothesized
that the cultural differences in individualistic versus collectivistic values would
influence the effects of participation. Erez and her colleagues found that
participation strategies are more congruent with the collectivistic values found
in Israel than with the individualistic values found in the United States. Erez
(1986) further found that participation was most effective in the kibbutz
setting in Israel, the most collectivistic group of the three sectors involved in
her study. Erez and Arad (1986) examined three components of participation,
group discussion leading to a decision, a motivational factor of involvement in
goal-setting, and information sharing, among Israeli part time university
students and found that all three contributed to improved work attitudes and
Cultural variables as moderators in the participation, goal acceptance
and performance relationship have not yet been systematically explored
beyond the studies of Erez and her colleagues. Understanding the cultural
variables phenomena is particularly important for managers in responding to
global issues as well as to the increasing cultural diversity of their internal and
external organizational environments.
The U.S.- Northern European value systems and perceptions about the
way the world works continues to dominate management theory holding on to
the "assumption that their object of study, their observations and their concepts
are culture-free" (Laurent, 1993. p.362). Americans, in particular, according to
Hofstede (1980b) tend to see the world as composed of four entities: Canada,
Europe, Mexico and Asia. In fact, Hofstede contends that the data suggest the
cultural differences between Sweden and France, and India and Japan are in
several respects larger than the distances between any of these countries and
the U.S. Hofstede (1980b and 1983) further contends that Americans, in
general, do not tend to see the subtleties of cultures on other continents. The
importance of the organizations external cultural environment has been
grossly overlooked in the literature despite the fact that it is from this
environment that an organization draws its resources. Unconscious
parochialism (Boyacigiller & Adler, 1991) have led to universalistic beliefs
about management practices (Laurent, 1993). Organizational change
strategies also suffer from this "ethnocentric pathology" (Faucheux. Amado &
Laurent, 1982) as strategies developed for one cultural context are often
deemed appropriate for other cultural environments (Kreacic & Marsh, 1986).
Furthermore, management practices from the more developed cultures are
often deemed superior and thus local wisdom is often disregarded (Ferrari.
1972). This ethnocentric view of the management-world persists despite
comparative research that has demonstrated that different cultures have
different perceptions and assumptions about management (Haire, Ghiselli &
Porter, 1966; Hofstede, 1980a, 1980b, 1983; Rodrigues, 1989; Snodgrass &
Hofstede (1980a), one of the leading cross-cultural researchers today,
identified four cultural dimensions in his landmark study of nationals from
over forty countries employed by a multinational corporation. The four
cultural dimensions are helpful in understanding organizational behavior in
different cultures. One of the cultural dimensions identified by Hofstede as
"individualism/collectivism," and used by Erez and her colleagues, is
particularly relevant for this study because of the collectivistic values found
among the Navajos. Hofstede (1991) describes the "individualism/
collectivism" dimension as opposite spectrums of national cultures:
Individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals
are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his
or her immediate family. Collectivism, as its opposite, pertains to
societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong,
cohesive ingroups, which throughout people's lifetime continue to
protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty (p.51).
These cultural dimensions are important for managers to understand as
their exposure to other cultures increases. This is because the majority of
people in the world live in collectivistic societies in which the interest of the
group is considered over the individual's interest, whereas only a minority of
people in the world live in individualistic societies (Hofstede, 1991). Out of
the forty countries studied by Hofstede (1980a), the United States ranked the
highest in individualism. According to Jaeger (1986), high individualism has
been found to be inconsistent with strategies emphasizing cooperation and
collaboration (Hofstede, 1980a). The extreme nature of American
individualism will not be an advantage to U.S. management as it attempts to
build collaborative teams and as its exposure to other cultures increases. It
will, therefore, become increasingly important for managers in the U.S. to
understand broader cultural dimensions in order to adopt management
practices appropriate to the cultural setting and to the increasing diversity of
their workplaces. For example, whereas U. S. workers prefer clear-cut.
assigned goals (Erez & Earley, 1987) workers from Asian, Hispanic, Native
American and Afro-American cultures (Hall & Hall, 1987), whose numbers are
increasing in the American workforce (Johnston & Packer, 1987) generally
prefer participatory management strategies which are consistent with their
A second study was conducted by Hofstede and Bond (1988) in which
he identified six organizational dimensions of differences in culture as follows:
(1) process-oriented versus results oriented; (2) employee-oriented
versus job-oriented; (3) parochial versus professions; (4) open system
versus closed system; (5) tight controlled versus loose controlled: and
(6) pragmatic versus normative emphasis towards client.
He stresses the need for managers who are able to function cross-
culturally within these dimensions and who also understand the limitations of
corporate-wide policies and practices, and in general, who understand the
limitations in transferring management technologies without appropriate
adaptation to local cultures.
Multinationals, corporations operating internationally, and
organizations around the world are more and more operating across
boundaries, requiring cross-culturally appropriate policies, procedures and
programs. The increasing cross-cultural integration of organizations demands
a clearer understanding of culturally relevant management practices. Today's
managers also need to know how to manage cultural diversity within their
organizations, on the shop floor and in the board room (Singer, 1992). As the
U.S. labor pool becomes more diverse, managers need to discover how to
integrate divergent perspectives. Effective managers in the past have known
how group composition alters group dynamics, however this knowledge was
based on culturally homogeneous samples (Bettenhausen, 1991).
The following are the conceptual and operational definitions of terms
used in this study:
Cross-cultural management: Cross-cultural management is the study
of behavior within organizations in other cultures and countries around the
world. Adler (1983) defines its purpose as:
...the description of organizational behavior within countries and
cultures, on comparisons of organizational behavior across countries
and cultures, and perhaps most importantly, on the interaction of
peoples Ifom different cultures working together within the same
organization or within the same work environment (p. 226).
Culture: Culture is recognized as a "hoary concept from the field of
social anthropology" (Patten, 1988, p. 195). There are many definitions of
culture encompassing macro-societal cultures and micro-cultures of
organizations and sub-cultures within the organizations. Pareek (1990)
defines societal culture as
the cumulative preferences for certain states of life over others (values),
response predispositions toward several significant issues and to certain
affairs (rituals), and ways of promoting desired behaviors and
preventing undesirable ones (sanctions) (p. 124).
The anthropologist, Roger Keesing (1974) defines culture as an
individual's theory of what his fellows know, believe and mean, his theory of
the code being followed and the game being played. Schein (1981) describes
culture at three levels: basic assumptions; values and ideology; and artifacts
and creation. Jaeger (1986) elaborating on Schein's three levels, indicates:
that the first level includes such things as the relationship of man to
nature, time orientation, beliefs about human nature, the nature of man's
relationship to man and man's concept of space and his place in it.
These are usually taken for granted and are 'preconscious.' The middle
level contains values and ideology, indicating ideals and goals as paths
for 'getting there.' The third level includes such things as language,
technology and social organization (p. 179).
Hofstede (1980b) defines culture as a collective programming of the mind that
distinguishes members of a group, and that the group may be a nation or an
In this study, the use of the terms "culture" or "cultural differences" in
the study's questions and hypotheses, refers to the Navajo culture. The Navajo
people define themselves as a distinct culture and as having a distinct way of
life. This identity is expressed by the Navajo Community College's president
in NCC's 1993-94 General Catalog as follows: "We are guided by our
philosophy and living system, Sa'ah Naaghai Bik'eh Hoshoon, and from this
guidance we are known as the Dine" (p. 5). Saah Naaghai Bik'eh Hoshoon is
loosely translated as being a protected, happy and balanced person. The
distinctness of the Navajo culture is explained, according to Benally (1992) by
four forms of spirituality:
the first emphasizes character development; the second, self-reliance;
the third, emotional ties and relationship with family, community,
nation and the natural environment, and the fourth, reverence and
respect for nature (p. 19).
Benally further explains that the goal of the Navajo philosophy is balance,
holism and harmony. To achieve this, according to NCC's President, the
Navajo believes in full participation of the Navajo community in identifying
goals and reaching consensus. The college's president further explains that
traditionally, collective decision-making has been the cultural norm for the
Navajos. and that the idea of hierarchial decision-making in the Navajo Nation
is a concept that has been externally imposed by their conquerors.
Organizational Culture: Huse and Cummings (1985) incorporate the
concepts of organizational culture from the literature in their definition. They
define organizational or corporate culture as:
the pattern of values, beliefs and expectations shared by organizational
members. It represents how the taken for granted, shared assumptions
that people make about how work is to be done and evaluated and how
employees relate to each other and significant others, such as
customers, suppliers and government agencies (p.350).
Another useful description of organizational culture offered by Laurent
(1990) is that it reflects assumptions about clients, employees, mission,
products, activities, and assumptions that have worked well in the past and
which over time tend to get translated into norms of behavior and
expectations about ways of thinking and acting.
Organizational culture in this study refers to the organizational culture
of the Navajo Community College's multi campus system.
Goal: a goal has been described as the result or achievement toward
which effort is directed; the desired outcome or object of an action (Vilere.
1991). An organizational goal has been defined in various ways by
organizational theorists. As cited in Maxwell (1984. p. 2.) "Etzioni stated that
an organizational goal is a desired state of affairs which the organization is
attempting to realize." Cyert and March (1963) define organizational goals as
a "series of independent aspiration-level constraints" (p. 24). Connor (1980.
p. 97) defines organizational goals as "a future state toward which all or part of
the organization is striving. This striving is reflected in activities of members
and the utilization pattern of organizational resources." Most organizational
theorists (Locke & Latham, 1990; Richards. 1979; Connor, 1980; St. John &
Rue, 1991) recognize that organizations pursue and prioritize multiple goals
commonly referred to as the "goal mix" of the organization. Thus the
organization's goal mix is the organizations set of priorities (Maxwell, 1984).
Organizational theorists further support the notion that organizational goals
are developed by the chief executive officer in consultation w ith the
organization's dominant coalition (Thompson, 1967), of what Dess (1987)
calls the organizations most influential members. In this study, organizational
goals are the goal statements included in the questionnaire used in the study
and included in the appendix.
Goal Acceptance: Goal acceptance or goal commitment, often used
interchangeably in the literature, "was one of the first mediating variables
recognized by Locke (1968)," (Hollenbeck & Klein. 1987. p. 212). Locke, et
al. (1981) identify goal acceptance as a key variable in the goal-setting -
performance link. Locke (1968) initially distinguished between goal
acceptance and goal commitment indicating that goal acceptance was related
to initial agreement whereas commitment referred to an unwillingness to
change the goal. Porter (1968) defined goal acceptance as the willingness of an
employee to exert high levels of effort to achieve a task. Buchanan (1974)
indicated there is little agreement regarding the definition of the concept of
commitment or its measurement The current view, and one that is adopted in
this study, is that acceptance and commitment are inclusive concepts with
higher degrees of acceptance indicating goal commitment (Locke & Latham,
Campbell and Gingrich (1986) measured goal acceptance with one
question on a 3 point scale "i.e. acceptance with determination, acceptance,
and hesitation about acceptance" (p. 172). Latham and Marshall (1982), on
the other hand, used three questions to measure goal acceptance on a 7-point
Likert scale, asking "To what extent did you accept the goal?"," How difficult
did you perceive the goal9", and "How reasonable did you perceive the goal to
be?" (p. 35).
Erez. Earley and Hulin (1985) used two questions to operationalize goal
acceptance: "To what extent do you accept the goal?" and "Do you really
accept the goal?" (p. 54). Erez and Arad (1986) in their research, used a 3-
item questionnaire rated on a 7-point Likert type scale, based on the work of
Latham and Steele (1983). as follows: "Commitment to a goal means
acceptance of it as your own personal goal and your determination to attain it.
How committed were you to attaining the goal that was set'1". "To what extent
did you strive to attain the goal that was set?" and "To what extent did you
strive for the goal that was set?" (p. 593). Erez and Earley (1987) measured
goal acceptance by two items: "(a) To what extent do you accept the goal?
where 1 = strongly reject and 7 = strongly accept, and (b) How committed are
you to the goal that was set? where 1 = not at all committed and 5 = extremely
committed" (p. 660).
The task conditions in the studies discussed above were at the micro
(individual and small group tasks) level in laboratory settings, where goal
acceptance was relatively easy to achieve (Latham. Erez & Locke. 1988). In
the micro goal-setting research, there is usually only one goal to achieve, the
task involves a short time frame, and there is no career risk involved in failing
to meet the goal (Locke & Latham. 1990). At the macro (organizational) level.
conditions are very different. As Locke and Latham (1990) point out, "the
stakes are greater with macro goals and so are the risks" making it more
difficult to achieve goal commitment and goal consensus (p. 326). They
further point out that goal commitment at the macro level indicates a
willingness to be held accountable, and failure to achieve goals can be a threat
to one's job.
There is no indication in the research that any of the above set of
definitions is preferable to the other, nor a more accurate measure of the
concept. The use of several questions to measure goal acceptance for thirteen
goals in the present study would unnecessarily lengthen the survey without any
evidence of improving reliability measures. Conversations with Navajo tribal
leaders prior to conducting the study suggested there would be low tolerance
for lengthy surveys. For these reasons, I will measure goal acceptance in this
study with one question, following each of the 13 organizational goals, as
follows: "To what extent do you feel you have accepted this goal?" I will rate
responses on a 7-point Likert type scale, with 1 = low acceptance to 7 = high
Goal Consensus: The concept of goal consensus is consistent with
what Prahalad and Bettes (1986, p. 490) have referred to as "the dominant
general management logic...defined as the way in which managers
conceptualize the business and make critical resource allocation decisions." A
review of the goal consensus research reveals similarities in operational
definitions of consensus. The focus of studies examining the consensus-
performance link has been on the degree of consensus at top management level
(Bourgeois, 1980, 1985; Bourgeois & Singh, 1983: Grinyer & Norbum, 1977-
78). These studies measured the extent of agreement on manager's perceptions
of the organizational goals.
Dess (1987), in his work, inferred the level of consensus on the basis
of shared perspectives of the importance of companies' goals. He used a
questionnaire based on previous research (Bourgeois, 1980, and others)
containing 15 company goals. Respondents were asked to rate the importance
of each goal on a scale of" 1 = Not at All Important to 5 = Extremely
Important" (p. 268). The questionnaire was designed to measure respondents'
"shared perspectives" regarding the importance of goals, not their individual
Researchers on goal consensus at community colleges used two similar
instruments, the standardized Community College Goals Inventory (CCGI)
(Harrison, 1983; Koys, 1983; Crawford, 1984; Flaherty, 1984; Coyan, 1985;
Coughlin, 1985) and the Institutional Goals Inventory (Id) (Markwood.
1983) to compare the degree of perceived goal importance among 80 possible
goal choices. Consensus was operationalized similar to the Dess' method, by
measuring agreement on the importance of each goal using a 5-point Likert
type scale. In these studies, consensus was measured on both perceived and
preferred goals separately, and a correlational analysis was used to measure
consensus between perceived and preferred goals.
In this study, I will measure goal consensus among and between the
various groups using one question following each of thirteen organizational
goals as follows: "How important do you think the following goal is at NCC:?"
Responses, rated on a 7-point Likert scale, with l = not very important to 7 =
very important, will be analyzed collectively to determine whether there is
group agreement (consensus) or disagreement on the importance of goals. The
closer the group's goal mean score is to 7.00, the greater is the importance
attached to any particular goal or goals. Similarly, the lower the standard
deviation (less than .80) the greater is the degree of consensus among the
group. The purpose of the questions, based on previous research, is to
measure the extent of group consensus or 'shared perspectives' regarding the
relative importance of goals, rather than individuals' personal preference
ratings. Dess (1987) measured consensus, following Bourgeois (1980) and
others, by three steps:
(1) the calculation of the mean standard deviation of responses among
TMT members ...(2) the summation of the standard deviation for all
items...to yield an aggregate firm score and (3) since a standard
deviation measures the 'dispersion' or differences in perception among
the individual respondents within a given firm, the TMT score was
subtracted from a constant number to give the numerical values a
positive relationship to the variables being measured. That is the lower
the dispersion of responses to the items composing each instrument
within a given TMT, the higher the level of consensus (p.268).
Key Constituent Group: A key constituent group, in this study, is
any group of individuals sharing a common identity, role, function or
responsibilities within the NCC system. These are the Executive Staff and
Planning Committee Group, the Administrative and Support Staff Group, the
Faculty, Navajo and non-Navajo Groups.
Macro Goal-setting Research: Macro goal-setting research has been
described by Locke and Latham (1990) as research which focuses on the
organization (or part thereof) as a whole, typically using correlational and
observational methods done almost exclusively in field settings. The present
study, focusing on the whole organization of the Navajo Community College,
is considered macro-goal-setting research.
Micro Goal-setting Research: Micro goal-setting research has been
described by Locke and Latham (1990) as research which focuses on the
individual or small group level typically using quantitative, experimental
designs in laboratory settings.
Organization: An organization has been defined as "a structured social
system consisting of groups and individuals working together to meet some
agreed upon objectives in other words, organizations consist of structured
combinations of social units individuals and/or groups who strive to attain a
common goal (Greenberg & Barron. 1993, p.8). An organization has also
been defined as a formal coalition of people that has been created for the
purpose of accomplishing goals. According to Cyert and March (1963):
The organization should be viewed as a coalition of participants who
have potentially differing preference orderings (i.e. individual goals),
and whose common consensual goals, if they can be identified, as
comprising the organizational goal or joint preference function' (in
Bourgeois, 1980, p. 230).
There is general agreement among most theorists (Cyert & March, 1963:
Connor, 1980) that organizations would not continue to exist without some
goal seeking activity. Community colleges as "structured social systems" are
organizations which are "designed and organized to extend educational
opportunities to individuals previously denied access to higher education"
[ (Maxwell. 1984. p. 30). The organization in this study is the Navajo
| Community College multi-campus system.
i Participation: Employee participation is variously defined as "a
j linking of decisions to the interests of affected employees by means of
! organizational conditions, structures and processes" (Wilpert. 1984, p. 355),
j and as "a group discussion leading to a decision" (Lewin, 1943, p.63). Wilpert
1 distinguishes between formal participation as a "legally established decision
making structure" and informal participation as a "style of management and
sharing by superiors of their authority with subordinates" (Wilpert. 1984. p.
i 358). Studies linking participation to goal acceptance and to performance
| include both actual participation, as in controlled laboratory experiments, as
well as perceived participation. The literature does not distinguish between
1 actual and perceived participation when discussing the effects of participation.
| Perceived participation or "perceived involvement" in goal-setting has been
! measured by Searfoss and Monczka (1973), Latham and Steele (1983), Erez
j (1986), Erez and Arad (1986), Campbell and Gingrich (1986), and Latham,
J Locke, and Erez (1988).
j Campbell and Gingrich (1986, p. 172) in their study involving a
computer programming task, measured participation by 3 questions, asking
subjects "how much influence they had in goal-setting", "how much talking
they did during the meeting", and "how much information they received from
the supervisor about the programming project." Subjects' responses were
rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale.
Locke, Latham, Erez (1988) measured perceived participation on a 2
item, 7-point Likert scale, as follows: "i.e. Compared to the experimenter in
this study, I had considerable influence over the goal that was set and
Compared to the experimenter in this study, the group members had
considerable influence over the goals that were set" (p. 757). Erez and Arad
(1986) used two questions to measure participation on a 5-point Likert scale
based on the Latham and Steele (1983) study, asking their subjects: "as
compared to the supervisor, how much influence did you have over the goal
set? and compared to the supervisor, how much influence did the other group
members have over the goal that was set" (p.593). In this study, I will measure
subjects' perceived participation in the goal-setting process at NCC by asking
them to respond to the statement on a 7-point Likert scale: "I have had a high
degree of involvement in the overall NCC goal-setting process." Responses
will be rated on a 7-point Likert-type scale, with 1 = strongly disagree.
indicating low or no participation, and 7 = strongly agree, indicating high
Additional items of participation include: (1) individuals' perceptions
of the goal-setting process at NCC which will be measured by the following
question "Except in emergencies, goals at NCC are participatively set by-
management" and (2) individuals need for participation will be measured by
the following question "I wish I had more opportunity to participate in goal-
setting." These questions will be measured on a 7-point Likert scale with 1 =
strongly disagree and 7 = strongly agree.
Source of Goals: Some organizational theorists have supported the
contention that the strategy or goals of an organization are formulated by the
chief executive officer in conjunction with the dominant coalition (Thompson.
1967) which is comprised of the most influential members (Hambrick &
Snow, 1977) of the organization (in Dess, 1987). In some instances, as Cyert
and March (1963) contend, while top management formulates organizational
goals, they do so through the process of bargaining with the various
organizational coalitions. Interviews with individuals at NCC during site
visits indicate that selected members of top management are the source of
Top Management Team: Organizational theorists note that in many
instances, the organization's strategy is developed "by the Chief Executive
Officer (CEO in conjunction with members of the dominant coalition
(Thompson, 1967), which is made up of the organizations most influential
members of the TMT team (Hambrick & Snow, 1977)" (Dess, 1987. p. 265).
In this study, the top management team, or dominant coalition, will include the
overlapping members of NCC's executive staff and planning committee.
DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
This chapter describes the research design and methodology that will be
used in this study. The conceptual model, the guiding hypotheses, the
instruments, the data gathering methods and sample are set out in this chapter.
This study proposes a conceptual model which provides the basis for
the hypothesized relationships of the variables of organizational participation
in goal-setting, goal acceptance and goal consensus. My conceptual model
proposes that as participation in goal-setting increases, both goal acceptance
and goal consensus increase. This model is based on an earlier study in the
goal-setting literature (Erez, Earley & Hulin, 1985) which hypothesized that
participative goal-setting enhances goal acceptance, and that participation
influences performance through its influence on goal acceptance. The model
further relies on a study in the strategy formulation literature (Dess, 1987) that
demonstrated a relationship between consensus on organizational goals and
performance. The present study extends the previous research of Erez, et al.
and of Dess by exploring the relationships of participation, goal acceptance
and goal consensus.
As it regards a theory on causal relationships, the literature on goal-
setting rests on a significant void with regard to causality among the variables
which this study considers. That is, there is no empirical evidence which helps
us to understand which variable or variables create or cause other variables. In
the absence of such empirical guidance, I propose the following model, which
seeks to integrate what little we do know about the variables of participation in
goal-setting, goal acceptance and goal consensus.
The model begins with the simple notion that thought precedes action,
and that action precedes and even creates consequences. That is to say, "I
think before I do." While this seems like an almost simple statement of the
obvious, it has important theoretical application in potentially unravelling the
goal-setting maze, for it suggests that initially people decide to become
involved in the goal-setting process, either because they are invited to become
involved or because they are in a position to decide to become involved on
their own (as would be the case of a senior manager whose position in the
organization enables him or her to initiate a goal-setting process). Figure 3.1
shows the interaction of several factors that contribute to an individual's
This study examines the relationships between participation, goal acceptance
and goal consensus within the relatively homogeneous cultural context of the
Navajo Community College (NCC). This model, guiding the study, suggests
that as the degree of participation increases at NCC. there is higher goal
acceptance, and that as goal acceptance increases, goal consensus increases.
by planning group
Number of individual
heads or management
Number of surveys,
Number of planning
of genuineness of
in goal setting
group dynamics of
goals with individual
goals and values
each goal to the
decision to participate in goal-setting. They are as follows: (1) an individual
assumes the initiative to participate, or for some personal reason values
participation (Hofstede, 1980a); (2) the organizational norms regarding
participation in management practices encourages individuals to participate in
goal-setting (Tannenbaum, Kavcic, Rosner, Vianello & Wieser, 1974); (3) the
socio-cultural values encourage and support individuals and group
participation in goal-setting (Erez, 1986; Erez & Arad, 1986); and (4) the
organizations strategic decision making processes encourage and establish
formal processes and procedures which enable participation in the goal-setting
function. Once individuals make the decision to become involved in goal-
setting, the degree to which they perceive themselves to be involved in the
goal-setting will be influenced by a number of variables, such as: (1) the
number of individual conversations with planners, department heads and/or
management executives; (2) the number of questionnaires or surveys
completed by them regarding organizational goals, or strategic issues; (3)
involvement in planning meetings or on task forces, and (4) their perceived
degree of membership in the dominant larger community.
The next step following participation in goal-setting, and as an
outgrowth of it, people become committed to both the process of involvement
or participation as well as to the product of that involvement. That is to say.
by participating in the process of goal-setting, people become more committed
to what that process produces. This assumes that participation is genuine, that
people believe their participation is real. The model, therefore, further
suggests that the individual's degree of perceived participation may be
influenced by intervening variables such as the following: (1) the individual's
perception of genuineness of participation; (2) the compatibility of
organizational goals with individuals' goals and values; and (3) the group
dynamics, such as those in group meetings where goals are discussed, which
suggest to the individual that his or her input and involvement is real. Where
the group dynamics process recognizes that differing goal interests among
various individuals and coalitions at the organizational level is the norm
(Locke & Latham. 1990) and where the process provides the forum for the
various individuals and coalitions to bargain and influence the choice of
organizational goals, the end result may be a merging of interests. Thus a
group mindset, or what Janis (1972) calls a "group-think" mentality, emerges.
Although the "group-think" mentality most often has negative
connotations in the literature because it restricts creative thinking and limits
exploration of options, it can have positive effects as the end result of the
bargaining of the various positions during the goal-setting process. That is, the
merging of the various interests towards a mutual commitment and a
crystallization of organizational goals is a basic assumption of the planning
literature (Bourgeois, 1980). Thus it is this process of participation that
contributes to the feeling of goal acceptance; by participating in the goal-
setting process, individuals are more inclined to be accepting of the goals
which the process produces.
In those instances where perceived participation is disingenuous or
artificial, for whatever reason, in the mind of the participant, or where there is
an incompatibility between individual and organizational goals, there is still
the likelihood that a general belief in the process still exists.
The above reasoning assumes that the participants perceive their
involvement or participation as real or genuine. In the event that participants
in the goal-setting do not believe their participation is real, but suspect that
they are being manipulated or "used," the outcome will be very different. They
will likely become cynical, disinterested, angry or even hostile to the goal-
setting processes, the people conducting them, or both. While these variables
are important, however, they are not a part of this study, though the clear
implication for future research would seem to be that "false participation" or
"superior-manipulated participation" leads away from goal acceptance by
participants. The foundation, therefore, of the whole process is trust: where
people trust the process, participation leads to acceptance: where trust does not
exist, participation does not lead to acceptance, but more likely away from
goal acceptance to goal rejection.
The third and final step is an outgrowth of the previous two. That is.
when more than one person, or when a group of persons join together in the
above two steps by participating and accepting the goals, the consequence of
group acceptance, or even of the majority of the members of a group accepting
a given goal or goals, is that as a group they come to accept the goal as
legitimate, workable or serviceable to the institution. In other words, the
collective group acceptance leads to a group mindset, which the goal-setting
literature calls "goal consensus." In sum. the causal relationships among the
variables are straightforward: participation leads to or causes goal acceptance,
which leads to or causes goal consensus.
Support in the literature for the effectiveness of participation is
indicated in the studies of Earley and Kanfer (1985), Erez, Earley and Hulin
(1985) and Erez and Arad (1986). Their conclusions from these studies are
that the process of participation in goal-setting significantly affects goal
acceptance. Their findings are supported by Beer (1976), who suggests that
group participation in goal-setting is an effective means to gain goal
acceptance or commitment to organizational goals, particularly under
conditions of resistance. Furthermore, once the group comes to accept
organizational goals through participation in goal-setting, there will be a
higher degree of goal consensus among the group. In their study, Whitney and
Smith (1983) found that goal acceptance was higher under consensus.
Therefore, the following hypothesis is proposed:
Hypothesis 1: As participation increases, goal acceptance
increases, and as goal acceptance increases, goal consensus
Several studies further suggest that the more homogenous top
management is in demographic variables, the more likely it is that there will be
goal consensus among them. Top management at NCC, comprised of members
from the overlapping executive staff and planning committee, has a high
degree of homogeneity, with 9 of the 12 participating members being Navajo.
Thus, the following hypothesis will be examined.
Hypothesis 2: There will be a higher degree of goal consensus
among top management staff than other groups.
| There is further indication that the cultural context is an important
| factor (Locke, Latham & Erez, 1988) in the effectiveness of participation on
! goal acceptance. Participatory practices are important values in coilectivistic
| societies (Hofstede, 1980) and therefore more effective in those societies
j (Erez, 1986; Erez & Earley, 1987). The relevance of coilectivistic values in
| Native American societies is indicated in Hall's (1959) often cited studies.
Therefore, the following hypotheses relevant to the interests of this study will
| be examined:
Hypothesis 3: The level of perceived participation will be higher
for Navajos than non-Navajos.
Hypothesis 4: The desire for more opportunities to participate in
goal-setting will be significantly higher for Navajos than non-
Hypothesis 5: The relationship between participation and goal
acceptance and between participation and goal consensus will be
significantly higher for Navajos than non-Navajos.
One additional hypothesis relevant to the interests of this study will be
| Hypothesis 6: Perceived participation in organizational goal-
setting will be positively related to perceived organizational
encouragement of participation in goal-setting.
The Research Instrument
The research instrument used in this study is a survey questionnaire
containing thirteen goal statements (see Appendix B). Goal statements 3
through 13 were collected from various drafts of goal statements that had
evolved from several goal-setting attempts at NCC over the last few years and
that were being reviewed by the executive staff, planning committee and
departments at the initiation of this study. Goals 3 through 13 are referred to in
the data analysis as the "total goals." This is because Goal Statements 1 and 2
were not NCC goals but were added by the researcher because there appeared
to be different opinions on the directions implied by these statements at the
time of the study. Goal statement 1 refers to an emphasis on reinforcing
Navajo language and culture in educational programs and Goal 2 refers to an
emphasis on reinforcing the English language and culture. Including these two
goal statements would provide a further opportunity to explore consensus
between and among the groups at NCC. Each goal statement is preceded by
the question: "How important do you think this goal is at NCC?" Respondents
were instructed to rank each goal according to its importance at NCC at that
time, not how important they personally thought the goal was at NCC. The
second question under each goal asked respondents "To what degree do you