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Enhancing performance through goal setting, engagement, and optimism

Bobby Medlin (College of Business, University of Arkansas‐Fort Smith, Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA)
Kenneth W. Green Jr (Department of Management and Marketing, College of Business Administration, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 21 August 2009




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationships among goal setting, employee engagement, workplace optimism, and individual performance constructs. Goal setting is hypothesized as positively impacting employee engagement, employee engagement as positively impacting workplace optimism, and workplace optimism as positively impacting individual performance.


Data collected from a sample of 426 full‐ and part‐time employees are analyzed following a structural equation modeling methodology.


The measurement and structural models fit the data relatively well. Goal setting positively impacts employee engagement, employee engagement positively impacts optimism, and optimism positively impacts individual performance, as hypothesized.

Research limitations/implications

Although data are collected from a relatively diverse group of respondents, the ability to generalize the findings is limited because the results are derived from a non‐random sample. All measures are based on the perceptions of the respondents. Job performance is reported by each respondent may not reflect the supervisor's performance rating and is not necessarily consistent with objective performance indicators such as sales generated by a marketing employee.

Practical implications

Results indicate that formal, structured goal setting processes lead to higher levels of employee engagement, that higher levels of engagement lead to improved workplace optimism, and that improved optimism in turn leads to higher levels of individual performance.


The paper provides empirical support for the implementation of management programs that foster goal setting, employee engagement, and workplace optimism for the purpose of enhancing the performance levels of individual employees.



Medlin, B. and Green, K.W. (2009), "Enhancing performance through goal setting, engagement, and optimism", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 109 No. 7, pp. 943-956.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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