Organizational goal ambiguity and job satisfaction in the public sector

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

87 Scopus Citations
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  • Chan Su Jung

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-981
Journal / PublicationJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Goal ambiguity in the public sector has received much research attention by many prominent scholars, due to its theoretical and practical importance. This study aims to promote a better understanding of organizational goal ambiguity and a more robust and comprehensive model of job satisfaction in the public sector. It measures the most recently developed dimensions of organizational goal ambiguity. These include three objective measures-target ambiguity, timeline ambiguity, and priority ambiguity-from the Program Assessment Rating Tool and one subjective measure-mission comprehension ambiguity-from the 2005 Merit Principles Survey. This article then links these goal ambiguity measures to a single-item measure for job satisfaction of U.S. federal government employees, considering a host of statistically significant control variables, including intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors and organizations' structural characteristics. The results of a hierarchical generalized linear model demonstrate that goal ambiguity dimensions related to mission comprehension, target, timeline, and priority are negatively associated with job satisfaction of public employees. This research is expected to contribute to the improvement of goal ambiguity and job satisfaction theories and to suggest practical ways to improve job satisfaction among employees of public organizations.