Organizational goal ambiguity and performance : Conceptualization, measurement, and relationships

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

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  • Su Jung Chan


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-217
Journal / PublicationInternational Public Management Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


Many public administration scholars, political scientists, and practitioners have agreed that public organizations have more ambiguous and hard-tomeasure goals than private organizations do. In addition, very little empirical research has been conducted in the public sector to support scholars' assertions regarding the negative relationship between organizational goal ambiguity and performance. Therefore, based on the recognition of these limitations, this study suggests an objective measure of organizational performance by measuring actual attainment rates of all the program goals in 97 U.S. federal agencies, based on Steers' goal approach. In addition to the number of organizational goals, the present study also develops two new concepts and measures of organizational goal ambiguity-target-specification and timespecification goal ambiguity-and validates them. The ordinary least squares regression results demonstrate the significant and negative relationships between the three dimensions of organizational goal ambiguity and the objective performance measure in the U.S. federal government. © 2011 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.