Motivational Mechanisms of Self-Concordance Theory: Goal-Specific Efficacy and Person–Organization Fit

Patrick E. Downes, Amy L. Kristof-Brown, Timothy A. Judge, Todd C. Darnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to elaborate on two mechanisms of self-concordance theory (SCT; Sheldon and Elliot in Pers Soc Psychol 24(5):546, 1998)—goal-specific efficacy and perceived person–organization (PO) fit—as mediators of the relationships between autonomous and controlled goal motives and goal accomplishment and job satisfaction. Design/Methodology/Approach: Data were from two independently collected samples of administrative employees (N1 = 37, N2 = 102) and their significant others across two points in time. Findings: Results indicated that autonomous motives were positively related to goal-specific efficacy and perceived PO fit (Time 1), and showed indirect effects on goal accomplishment and other-rated job satisfaction (Time 2). Controlled motives were negatively related to the same intermediaries and outcomes. Implications: Goal motives implicate goal-specific outcomes, and individuals’ overall composition of goal motives—across their goals—shape their goal efficacy and PO fit perceptions. These mechanisms relate to distal outcomes of goal accomplishment and job satisfaction. The research offers theoretical implications for the proximal outcomes of goal motives, but also practical implications for ways in which organizations can improve incumbent PO fit perceptions. Originality/Value: Although research has shown that having self-concordant goals is positively associated with individual outcomes, existing research has yet to understand why this is the case. In addition, most studies of SCT apply difference scores to study the construct at the individual-level rather than specifying motives separately and considering a multilevel perspective. Our research offers a novel investigation of the proximal outcomes of SCT and the levels at which they operate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-215
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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