School of Psychological Science

Postgraduate Profiles


Kim Louw

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 1453

Start date

May 2010

Submission date

Feb 2014

Kim Louw


Examining the relationship between achievement goal theory and non-task work performance: Is motivation a moderator of performance?


Over the past few decades achievement goal theory (Ames, 1992; Dweck, 1986) has emerged as an important theoretical perspective on the motivations behind learning and task performance. Achievement goal theory is fundamentally the study of choice behaviours, or behavioural approaches, in achievement settings (Baranik, Stanley, Bynum, & Lance, 2010; DeShon & Gillespie, 2005; Dweck, 1986). These different approaches, known as goal orientations, are believed to create different perceptual-cognitive frameworks for how individuals approach, interpret and respond to achievement situations. More simply, goal orientations define why and how people try to achieve various objectives rather than focussing on the content of what people are attempting to achieve (ie. objectives, grades, standards).

My research is focused on how these goal orientations affect performance in the workplace, specifically non-task performance. Job performance can be delineated into two broad domains; task performance and non-task performance. Non-task performance can be further classified into the two domains of constructive non-task performance and counterproductive non-task performance.

I have completed my first study and results indicate that employees with a performance approach goal orientation (which describes an orientation towards performing well relative to others) are more likely to engage in counterproductive work behaviours.

Why my research is important

To survive and prosper organisations must be both dynamic and adaptable. The non-task performance (tasks that go above and beyond basic job description) of employees is critical to remaining competitive. Individual differences in non-task performance can therefore determine individual as well as organisational success. Why is it that some employees are committed to helping the organisation, while others with similar qualifications falter? Goal orientation is emerging as a useful construct for understanding differences between individual motivation strategies and behaviour (see Payne, Youngcourt & Beaubien, 2007 for review). By understanding the ways in which an individual's goal orientation is related to their non-task performance has important implications for an organisation's success and growth.


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