Goal setting is one of the most replicated and influential paradigms in the management literature. Advocates of goal setting have had a substantial impact on research, management education, and management practice. This chapter argues that the beneficial effects of goal setting have been overstated and that systematic harm caused by goal setting has been largely ignored. It identifies specific side effects associated with goal setting, including a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, distorted risk preferences, a rise in unethical behavior, inhibited learning, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation. The chapter offers a warning label to accompany the practice of setting goals. It begins by describing the systematic and predictable ways in which goal setting harms organizations. The chapter describes how the use of goal setting can degrade employee performance by narrowing focus to neglect important but nonspecified goals, motivating risky and unethical behaviors, inhibiting learning, corroding organizational culture, and reducing intrinsic motivation.
Ordóñez, Lisa, Maurice Schweitzer, Adam Galinsky, and Max Bazerman. "Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Overprescribing Goal Setting." Organizational Collaboration. Routledge, 2020, 21-34.