Date of Award

Summer 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Marketing and Analysis

First Advisor

Sean, Dwyer


The purpose of this study was to apply a social-cognitive model of motivation, used extensively in educational psychology, to a sales setting. The topic pertaining to work motivation and its importance is evidenced by the amount of research devoted to the topic. The literature examined for this study was selected from the fields of industrial/organizational psychology, educational psychology, and marketing/sales. Specifically, this study addressed the following research questions: (1) To what extent is salespeople's goal orientation determined by their implicit personality theory? (2) Do salespeople's goal orientation determine their behavior pattern? (3) Does optimism moderate the relationship between salespeople's implicit personality theory and their goal orientation? (4) Does self-efficacy moderate the relationship between salespeople's performance goal orientation and their behavior pattern? (5) Do organizational factors—control systems and organizational culture—moderate the relationship between salespeople's implicit personality theory and goal orientation?

The sampling frame for this study was 2000 randomly selected life insurance agents. The survey was conducted by sending a mail questionnaire to the study participants. The survey instrument was designed to measure the dispositional and situational factors that influence salespeople's goal orientation and selling behavior. Two mailings of the survey instrument produced 254 responses resulting in a response rate of just over 12%. Hierarchical and moderated regression analyses were used to analyze the resulting data.

The statistical analysis revealed that salespeople's implicit personality theory did affect their mastery goal orientation and that a mastery goal orientation was associated with an adaptive behavior pattern. Support was also found for the moderating effect of sales force control systems and a market organizational culture type on salespeople's implicit personality theory-performance goal orientation relationship. Finally, marginal support was found for the moderating effect of a capability control system and a clan culture on salespeople's implicit personality theory-mastery goal orientation relationship.

Contributions of the study to the academic literature and the managerial implications of the results of the research were presented. The concluding section suggested future research in the area of salesperson work motivation.