Edwin A. Locke
|Born||January 5, 1938|
|Alma mater||Phillips Exeter Academy (HSDG)|
Harvard University (BA)
Cornell University (MA, PhD)
Edwin A. Locke (born January 5, 1938) is an American psychologist and a pioneer in goal-setting theory. He is a retired Dean’s Professor of Motivation and Leadership at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was also affiliated with the Department of Psychology. As stated by the Association for Psychological Science, "Locke is the most published organizational psychologist in the history of the field. His pioneering research has advanced and enriched our understanding of work motivation and job satisfaction. The theory that is synonymous with his name—goal-setting theory—is perhaps the most widely-respected theory in industrial-organizational psychology. His 1976 chapter on job satisfaction continues to be one of the most highly-cited pieces of work in the field."
He is also a critic of the concept of emotional intelligence. In recent years, he has become an outspoken opponent of the animal rights movement, especially the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In a winter 2010 interview with Imagineer magazine, he stated, "I don’t think PETA want all beings equal at all; I think they want man to suffer and die."
Locke graduated high school from Phillips Exeter Academy. He obtained his Bachelors in Psychology from Harvard in 1960. Two years later, at Cornell, he earned his master's degree in Industrial Psychology and Experimental Psychology, followed by his PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 1964. Locke's dissertation was on the relationship of intentions to motivation and affect. In 1964, he took a position as an associate research scientist with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where he remained as a research scientist from 1966 - 1970.
In 1967, he became an assistant professor of Psychology in the University of Maryland. In 1970, he became associate professor of Business Administration in the University of Maryland. Between 1972 and 2001, he held a number of posts at the University of Maryland: 1972-2001, Professor of Business and Management, and of Psychology; 1984-1996; Chair, Management and Organization Faculty; 1998-2001, Dean's Professor of Leadership and Motivation. Since 2001, Locke has been Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland.
The Goal Setting Theory
Goal Setting Theory was developed by Locke(1968) to explain human behavior in specific work situations  . The theory argues that goals and intentions are cognitive and willful.
The two key findings of this theory are that setting specific goals (e.g., I want to earn $500 more a month) leads to higher performance than setting easy or "do best" goals (e.g., I want to earn more money), and that goal difficulty is linearly and positively related to performance such that, the harder the goal, the greater the effort, focus, and persistence, which results in higher performance. Goals are proposed to mediate the influence of incentives and feedback on performance. The model has spawned a large body of research, most of which has supported these predictions.
Goals have two characteristics: content, and intensity. Content refers to the chosen achievement (e.g., I want to form a loving relationship). Intensity refers to the quantity of physical and mental resources needed to create or achieve the content. The original model proposed by Locke consisted of five steps: Environmental Stimuli → Cognition → Evaluation → Intentions\ Goal Setting → Performance.
Prime Mover Theory
Professor Locke also developed a model of successful business people. This model is based on observations of success, such as of Walt Disney, Sam Walton, and Mary Kay. In successful people, seven traits were observed at high levels:
- Independent vision
- An active mind
- Competence and confidence
- The drive to action
- Egoistic passion
- Love of ability in others
- The Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Academy of Management (Human Resources Division)
- Outstanding Teacher-Scholar Award from the University of Maryland
- James Mckeen Cattell Fellow Award, Association for Psychological Science.
Locke is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the Academy of Management, the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology, and the Society for Organizational Behavior.
- Association for Psychological Science. "2005 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award". Retrieved 2009-05-28.
- Locke, Edwin A. (April 24, 2003). "On May Day Delebrate Capitalism". Retrieved 2009-05-28.
- Locke, E. A. (2005). "Why emotional intelligence is an invalid concept". Journal of Organizational Behavior. 26 (4): 425. doi:10.1002/job.318.
- Winter 2010 Interview with Imagineer Magazine. http://www.imagineermagazine.com/index.php/issue_archives/autumn/edwin_a_locke
- McConnell, Scott, "Edwin A. Locke," 100 Voices: an Oral History of Ayn Rand, 2010, New American Library, pp. 351-352.
- Locke, E. A. (1968). "Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives". Organizational Behavior and Human Performance. 3 (2): 157. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(68)90004-4.
- Mento, A. J.; Steel, R. P.; Karren, R. J. (1987). "A meta-analytic study of the effects of goal setting on task performance: 1966–1984". Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 39: 52. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(87)90045-8.
- E. A. Locke. (2000). The prime movers: Traits of the great wealth creators. Amacom New York, NY.