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Japanese Psychological Research

2016, Volume 58, No. 4, 297309

doi: 10.1111/jpr.12128

Fitness of Job Type and Management by Objectives:


Mediating Effects of Perception of Effectiveness
and Goal Commitment and Moderating
Effects of Supervisors Behavior1
SAORI YANAGIZAWA* Seinan Gakuin University
HISATAKA FURUKAWA Japan University of Economics

Abstract: This study investigated the inuence of job type (line or staff ) on perceptions of management-by-objectives (MBO) effectiveness, goal commitment, and
goal-attainment behavior, as well as mediating effects of perceptions of MBO effectiveness and goal commitment and moderating effects of supervisor behavior. Participants were 152 employees of a factory that manufactures drugs for a Japanese
pharmaceutical company. The primary duties of line personnel involved production.
The duties of staff personnel who supported production included supplying materials
and production planning. Results indicated that line personnel perceived MBO as a
more effective system for improving individual performance and showed higher goal
commitment and more active behavior related to goals than staff personnel.
Although perception of MBO effectiveness was related to goal commitment, it had
no mediating effect. Goal commitment mediated between job type and goalattainment behavior. Supervisors goal-setting behavior had different positive effects
on goal commitment and goal-attainment behavior for those in line and staff positions. MBO was a better t for line positions than staff positions. However, supervisor behavior increased goal-attainment behavior in staff positions. The results
indicated that it is important for supervisors in a business organization to operate a
management system exibly.
Key words: job type, management by objectives, perception of effectiveness of
management system, goal commitment, supervisor behavior.

Much research in the past two decades has


focused on the effects of human resource management (HRM) on organizational performance (Becker & Huselid, 2006). Employees
perceptions of the execution of HRM practices
have been shown to inuence their attitudes

and behavior (Aryee, Walumbwa, Seidu, &


Otaye, 2012). But many studies have overlooked the fact that employees perceptions of
the execution of human resource (HR) practices and their perceptions of the effectiveness
of these practices are two different things.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to: Saori Yanagisawa, Department of Human
Sciences, Seinan Gakuin University, Nishijin, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka 814-8511, Japan. (E-mail: yana@seinan-gu.
ac.jp)
1

This research was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientic Research (C), Project No. 24530804.

2016 Japanese Psychological Association. Published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

298

S. Yanagizawa and H. Furukawa

Even if employees perceive HR practices as


intended, they may consider the practices to
be ineffective. Employees who perceive HR
practices as ineffective may fail to show high
motivation and active job behavior.
The perception of the effectiveness of HRM
and HR practices may differ depending on the
characteristics of the employees jobs. Typically, the same HRM and HR practices operate throughout a company, employing the
same process, although the organization is
constructed from various subgroups, each having different job characteristics. Some job
types may therefore be suitable for a given
HRM, but others may not.
The present study focuses on two employee
groups with different job characteristics: a production line in a factory and a support staff for
this production. We examine their perceptions
of management-by-objectives (MBO), which
often includes several HR practices, such as
rewards based on individual and group performance outcomes and formal performance
evaluation.
This study has three purposes. The rst is to
examine the effect of job type (line or staff )
on the perception of MBO effectiveness in
performance, goal commitment, and goalattainment behavior. The second is to investigate the mediating effects of perception of
MBO effectiveness on goal commitment, and
the mediating effects of goal commitment on
goal-attainment behaviors. The third is to
explore the moderating effects of supervisors
behaviors on the relationship between job
type, goal commitment, and goal-attainment
behaviors.

staff positions, including maintenance and


technical support, which act as support for
the line.
There are at least three distinct differences
in the jobs involved in the production line and
the staff. First, on the production line there is
an association between a particular job and
the organizational goals of the business, which
often involve numerical targets for the businesss activities (e.g., production, sales, prot
rate). Line personnel perform tasks relating to
these activities.
The second difference is in the measurement of performance. For jobs related to production and sales, it is relatively easy to use
objective and quantitative indexes to measure job performance and the progress of
work. However, progress and the performance of employees in staff positions often
appear to be measured qualitatively, by relative merit.
The third difference between production
line and staff jobs is the degree of interdependency among the members responsible for
a task. In the factory that was the focus of this
study, production takes place on the assembly
line, which depends on close interaction and
coordination among members. Support tasks
conducted by the factory staff are often implemented independently.

Job Characteristics of Production Line


and Staff Departments
In a business organization employing a production line and support staff, the departments on the line are related to production.
They perform activities directly related to
the primary business of the organization.
Other departments, such as personnel,
nance, and planning, support the line and
thus indirectly contribute to business performance. In this article, we also examine other

A managerial process whereby organizational purposes are diagnosed and


met by joining superiors and subordinates in the pursuit of mutually agreed
upon goals and objectives, which are
specic, measurable, time bounded, and
joined to an action plan; progress and
goal attainment are measured and monitored in appraisal sessions which center
on mutually determined objective standards of performance. (p. 37)

Japanese Psychological Association 2016.

Effects of Job Type on Perception of


MBO Effectiveness, Goal Commitment,
and Goal-Attainment Behavior
MBO has various styles. McConkie (1979)
reviewed the literature related to MBO and
dened it as follows:

Fitness of job type and management by objectives

Past studies have shown that MBO


improves
productivity
of
organizations
(Rodgers & Hunter, 1992). Although MBO
has been shown to be a generally effective
management tool, employees perceptions of
its effectiveness in their performance may differ depending on their job type.
Many organizations that adopt MBO
instruct their employees to set numerical
goals, regardless of whether or not their job
performance is numerically measurable. For
line personnel, whose duties consist largely of
tasks that are easy to measure quantitatively,
these types of numerical goals appear to be
legitimate. This legitimacy should help line
personnel perceive MBO as an effective system that can enhance individual performance.
Staff personnel, who perform tasks in which
quality, rather than quantity, is often important and whose performance is therefore difcult to measure numerically, may feel that
numerical goals are unsuitable for their job.
Indeed, past research suggests that MBO is
less suitable for staff positions than for line
positions (Kleber, 1972; McConkey, 1972)
because performance in staff positions is often
measured qualitatively. Because it may be difcult for employees in these positions to perceive MBO as a system that can be effectively
applied to their work, we have the following
hypothesis.
Hypothesis 1: Line personnel will perceive
MBO as a more effective system for performance than staff personnel.
In MBO, an employees goal commitment
and goal-attainment behavior might be different between line personnel and staff
personnel.
Goal commitment refers to ones attachment to, or determination to attain, a goal
regardless of its origin (Locke, Latham, &
Erez, 1988). Job characteristics related to goal
commitment would be an association between
the employees job and organizational goals.
The strength of association between the line
personnels jobs and organizational goals
should lead them to believe that the

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organizations ability to attain its goals signicantly depends on their performance and goal
attainment. This should make their goal and
its attainment more attractive. A positive relationship between goal commitment and attractiveness of goal attainment has been
conrmed in a meta-analysis (Klein, Wesson,
Hollenbeck, & Alge, 1999).
Koslowsky (1990) found that line personnel
perceive a stronger association between their
job and organizational goals than staff personnel, and this perception leads to high job commitment. Koslowsky studied commitment to
the job, not to goals, but individuals with high
job commitment should be aware of their performance of work and goals at the same time.
Thus Koslowskys results are useful in predicting the relationship between line personnels
jobs and goal commitment. We therefore formulate the following hypothesis.
Hypothesis 2: Job type will affect goal commitment: Line personnel will show higher goal
commitment than staff personnel.
Job characteristics related to goalattainment behavior include whether or not
the progress of a job and performance are easily assessed numerically. If some of their tasks
are numerically measurable, employees should
easily comprehend their progress and performance and should perceive a discrepancy
between the current progress of their task and
the desired goal. When they perceive this discrepancy, they should engage in self-regulation
to decrease the discrepancy (Kanfer & Kanfer,
1991), thus promoting behaviors to attain
goals. Line personnel, who often carry out
jobs that can be measured and expressed
numerically, can probably comprehend these
types of discrepancies more easily than staff
personnel, whose jobs are often difcult to
measure numerically. This job characteristic
suggests that line personnel engage in more
active goal-attainment behavior than staff
personnel.
Hypothesis 3: Job type will affect goalattainment behavior: Line personnel will show
more active goal-attainment behavior than
staff personnel.
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300

S. Yanagizawa and H. Furukawa

Mediating Effect of Perception of MBO


Effectiveness
Studies of the factors that mediate between
the HRM system and organizational performance have explored the effects of employee
perceptions about execution of various practices in the HRM system (e.g. training, performance appraisal, and job design) on their
attitude, including empowerment and job satisfaction (Aryee et al., 2012). The perception of
effectiveness of the MBO system for performance should also be related to employee attitude. The present study focuses on goal
commitment as an employee attitude and the
mediating effect of perception of MBO effectiveness between job type and goal
commitment.
A mediating effect of the perception of MBO
effectiveness for performance is predicted based
on expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964). According to expectancy theory, motivation increases
with the perception of the probability that an
individuals behavior and effort will lead to performance and that the performance will lead to
an outcome, such as compensation. In the
MBO system, the degree of goal attainment
affects compensation. Past studies have indicated that the perceptions (expectancies) combine with goal commitment (Monzani et al.,
2015; Shah & Higgins, 1997). Line personnel
that perceive MBO as effective for performance
should expect that their work behaviors would
effectively result in goal attainment and that
under this system, it would also be reected in
compensation. This expectation is expected to
result in goal commitment.
Hypothesis 4: The perception of MBO
effectiveness will mediate the effect of job
type on goal commitment.
Mediating Effect of Goal Commitment
Research has shown that goal commitment promotes goal attainment for difcult goals (Klein
et al., 1999). Goal commitment leads to continued working to achieve goals (Locke &
Latham, 1990) and inuences information processing, task strategies, and strategy implementation, affecting performance (Kanfer, 1990).
When employees show goal commitment, their
Japanese Psychological Association 2016.

setting of goals links to their behavior


(Wofford, Goodwin, & Premack, 1992). Thus
goal commitment should induce employee
behaviors that are necessary to attain goals,
leading to active goal-attainment behavior.
Line personnel should show higher goal commitment than staff personnel, and this higher
goal commitment would facilitate goalattainment behavior.
Hypothesis 5: Goal commitment will mediate the effect of job type on goal-attainment
behaviors.
Moderating Effect of Supervisor
Behavior in Stage of Setting Goals
Goal setting in organization is a process
achieved through interaction between supervisor and subordinate. In goal setting, supervisors behaviors that support and encourage
subordinates to effectively achieve their goals
could promote self-efcacy in subordinates,
resulting in goal commitment.
Lee and Schuler (1980) empirically demonstrated the effects of supervisor behavior on
goal setting. They showed that a leaders initiating structure, such as specifying a task, claries
roles and reduces role stress in the goal-setting
stage (Lee & Schuler, 1980). In a meta-analysis,
Klein et al. (1999) found an average correlation
of .38 between supervisor supportiveness and
goal commitment. The results clearly indicated
that supervisors behaviors that support the
effective achievement of subordinates goals
are related to goal commitment.
Supervisor behavior should also be associated with goal-attainment behavior. Lee,
Bobko, Earley, and Locke (1991) showed that
supervisor support, which includes encouraging subordinates to reach a goal and telling
them how to reach it, was negatively correlated with goal conict and goal stress and
positively correlated with goal efcacy
(e.g., having an effective action plan to reach a
goal) and with goal rationale (e.g., clarifying
the relation between performance and goal).
Lee et al. (1991) also found that goal efcacy,
goal rationale, and goal clarity are positively
related to performance and job satisfaction.
Quick (1979) and Sagie (1996) suggest that,

Fitness of job type and management by objectives

through the interaction between supervisor


and members in goal setting, ambiguity in task
roles can be diminished and understanding of
task expectations can be claried, resulting in
improvement of goal commitment and performance. These studies suggest that supervisors
behaviors that support the achievement of
members goals have a positive effect on goalattainment behavior and performance.
The effect of supervisor behavior on goal
commitment and goal-attainment behavior
may differ for line and staff personnel. In staff
positions, where MBO may be less t in its
relation to job characteristics, the supervisor
should play a role in increasing this tness by
adjusting the operation of MBO. Therefore,
supervisor behavior in operating MBO effectively for staff positions should be more inuential in comparison with the effect of
supervisor behavior on line personnel.
There is little evidence about effects of job
type and supervisor behavior. Hollmann
(1976) found a stronger association between a
supportive climate, including supervisor
behavior, and assessment of MBO effectiveness for people working in staff positions than
for those in line positions. This suggests that
factors related to the effectiveness of MBO
other than the MBO system itself, such as
supervisor behavior, would have a stronger
inuence on staff positions than on line positions. If supervisors of the staff department
are able to manage the goal-setting stage
effectively, staff personnel may also show high
goal commitment and active goal-attainment
behavior. But when a staff supervisor
approaches the operation of MBO based
solely on the manual, goal commitment and
goal-attainment behavior of the members of
the staff department may not improve. Thus,
we expect the following.
Hypothesis 6: Supervisor behavior in the
goal-setting stage will moderate the relationship between job type and goal commitment.
The effect of supervisor behavior on goal
commitment will be more inuential for staff
personnel than for line personnel.
Hypothesis 7: Supervisor behavior in the
goal-setting stage will moderate the relationship

301

between job type and goal-attainment behavior. The effect of supervisor behavior on goalattainment behavior will be more inuential for
staff personnel than for line personnel.

Method
The sample consisted of employees working
in a Japanese pharmaceutical factory. MBO
was carried out company-wide by this
manufacturer.
Preliminary Research
There are only a few previous studies that
have investigated MBO for employees in factories. Therefore, we conducted a pilot study
to match our research with the actual business
conditions in the target factory. An interview
was conducted to identify job characteristics of
line and staff personnel and supervisors behaviors in the goal-setting stage.
Fifteen line personnel (4 supervisors and
12 members) and 12 staff personnel (2 supervisors and 10 members) participated in this
interview. The jobs of the line personnel were
focused on the production of pharmaceutical
drugs, and the jobs of the staff personnel were
material supply, production planning, and
machine maintenance.
Supervisors and members were asked about
their job characteristics and supervisor behavior in the goal-setting stage. Members were
also asked about the effectiveness of each
supervisors behavior. Each interview took
about 1 h per participant. Through analysis of
the interview record, we found the following
job characteristics and supervisor behavior.
Job characteristics. We observed three
differences in job characteristics between the
line and staff departments. First, the jobs of
the line departments were more directly associated with factory goals than the jobs in the
staff departments. Line personnel set individual goals, such that they were directly relevant
to factory goals, including increasing production efciency and decreasing the product
rejection rate.
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S. Yanagizawa and H. Furukawa

The second difference was performance measures. Job performance in the line department
was easy to measure using statistics, such as the
rejection rate of the products. Members
received numerical feedback as they carried out
their tasks. Job performance in the staff department was difcult to measure quantitatively.
The third difference was related to the interdependence of tasks among members. In the
line department, as there was high task interdependence, members often got together and
discussed the goals that needed to be set and
the progress of the jobs. By contrast, staff personnel rarely discussed these issues.

Supervisor behavior. Members responses


indicated three types of supportive behaviors
of supervisors that resulted in the achievement
of members goals during the goal-setting
stage.
One was communication before setting the
individual goals of the members. Supervisors
set group goals and they communicated these
to their group members. Then group members
set their individual goals based on the group
goals and discussed the individual goals with
their supervisor. Some supervisors incorporated the opinions of members before setting
the group goals, and after setting the group
goals they took time to clearly explain the
goals in understandable terms. We call this
behavior communication before goal setting.
The second type of supervisor behavior led
to subordinates participation during goaloriented meetings of the supervisor and group
members. Some supervisors encouraged subordinates to present their ideas and included
improvement in active communication, so that
subordinates could experience participative
goal setting. We call this supervisor behavior
the participative approach.
The third type of supervisor behavior
included giving instructions during goaloriented meetings of the supervisor and group
members. These instructions included issues
that might interfere with goal achievement and
strategies aimed at effectively achieving goals.
We call this behavior instrumental support.
Japanese Psychological Association 2016.

Based on the results of the preliminary


interviews, the main study was implemented
as follows.
Sample
The sample included 152 factory employees,
excluding members who had participated in
the preliminary interviews: 113 (82 men and
31 women) were line members who manufactured products, and 39 (28 men and 11 women)
were staff members who had jobs supporting
the line, such as ensuring the supply of materials, as well as production planning. Mean
length of service was 9.36 years (4.22).
Measures
All scales except the Type of Job Scale were
6-point Likert scales ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree) to 6 (strongly agree).
Type of job. Participants were asked to
indicate their current department. We coded
staff departments as 0 and line departments
as 1.
Perception of MBO effectiveness. We
assessed the perception of MBO effectiveness
in performance. The perception was measured
using three items. A sample item for performance was: MBO increases individual
performance.
Supervisor behavior. We measured three
kinds of supervisor behavior in the goal-setting
stage based on preliminary interviews: communication before goal setting, participative
approach, and instrumental support. The variable communication before goal setting was
measured with three items. A sample item was
My supervisor asks for members requests
and opinions before he/she sets the departments goals. The variable participative
approach was measured with three items. A
sample item was My supervisor encouraged
me to present my ideas. The variable instrumental support was measured with three
items. A sample item was My supervisor
instructed me on how to achieve my goals.

Fitness of job type and management by objectives

Goal commitment. Six items developed


by Hollenbeck, Klein, OLeary, and Wright
(1989) were translated into Japanese and used
to measure goal commitment. A sample item
was I am strongly committed to pursuing
this goal.
Goal-attainment behavior. We measured
goal-attainment behavior with three items. A
sample item was I work very actively to
achieve the goals I have written on my goalsetting sheet.

Results
As the data in this study were measured using
self-reports, we assessed whether common
method variance would be problematic. First,
Harmans one-factor test was conducted. All
study variables except type of job were
entered together into an exploratory factor
analysis. Results indicated six factors with
eigenvalues greater than one. The rst factor
accounted for a relatively small portion of the
variance (33%), which was not greater than
50%. Next, we examined the signicance of
the model with just the traits factors and the
model with a common method factor added to
the traits factors, following the procedure used
by Williams, Cote, and Buckley (1989). The
model with a common method factor
accounted for only 10% of the total variance.
This portion is less than the common method
variance (25%) demonstrated by Williams
et al. (1989). The results of these tests suggest
that the common method variance is not problematic in the present analysis. Table 1 shows
the means, standard deviations, and correlations of the variables.
Effects of Job Type on Perception of
MBO Effectiveness, Goal Commitment,
and Goal-Attainment Behavior
We predicted in Hypothesis 1 that line personnel would perceive MBO as more effective for
performance than would staff personnel. To
examine this hypothesis, we conducted a t-test.
Perception of MBO effectiveness for performance was higher in line personnel than in

303

staff personnel (staff, M = 2.63, SD = 1.11;


line, M = 3.30, SD = .81; t (153) = 4.02, p < .01).
Thus Hypothesis 1 was supported.
To test Hypothesis 2, the relationship
between job type and goal commitment was
tested using hierarchical multiple regression,
with goal commitment as the dependent variable. Job type was entered in Step 1. Perception
of MBO effectiveness was entered in Step
2. Three supervisor behaviors (communication
before goal setting, participative approach,
and instrumental support) were entered in
Step 3. Following the procedure recommended
by Aiken and West (1991), we added the
interaction variables of job type and each
supervisors behavior in Step 4, in order to test
the moderating effects that were predicted in
Hypothesis 6. The results of this analysis are
shown in Table 2. Job type had a signicant
effect on goal commitment. This result indicates that line personnel achieved higher goal
commitment than staff personnel. The t-test
also showed the same result (staff, M = 2.80,
SD = .86; line, M = 3.30, SD = .61; t (153) = 3.83,
p < .01). These results, therefore, support
Hypothesis 2.
Hypothesis 3. predicted that job type would
affect goal-attainment behavior: Line personnel would show more active goal-attainment
behavior than staff personnel. To test this
Hypothesis, a hierarchical multiple regression
was conducted with goal-attainment behavior
as the dependent variable. Job type was
entered in Step 1. Goal commitment was
entered in Step 2 and the three supervisors
behaviors were entered in Step 3. Moreover,
following the procedure recommended by
Aiken and West (1991), three interaction variables of job type and each supervisors behavior were entered in Step 4. The results of this
analysis are shown in Table 3. Job type had a
signicant effect on goal-attainment behavior.
This result indicates that line personnel were
more active than staff personnel in attaining
their own goals. The t-test also showed the
same result (staff, M = 2.54, SD = .78; line,
M = 3.00, SD = .77; t (153) = 3.05, p < .01),
which supported Hypothesis 3. Instrumental
support by the supervisor also had a signicant
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S. Yanagizawa and H. Furukawa

Table 1 Means, standard deviations, and correlations among study variables

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Type of job
Perception of MBO effectiveness
Communication before goal setting
Participative approach
Instrumental support
Goal commitment
Goal-attainment behavior

SD

0.79
3.16
3.61
4.30
3.83
3.20
3.16

.41
.92
.94
.83
.90
.70
.92

1
.30**
.04
.31**
.30**
.33**
.24**

(.91)
.29
.23**
.38**
.42**
.37**

(.78)
.50**
.66**
.13
.26**

(.85)
.69**
.18*
.27**

(.86)
.23**
.38**

(.82)
.
50**

(.79)

Note. Reliability estimates (alphas) are on the diagonal in parentheses.


Staff = 0, line = 1.
*p < .05. **p < .01.
a

Table 2 Results of hierarchical regression analyses predicting goal commitment

1.
2.
3.

4.

Job typea
Perception of MBO effectiveness
Communication before goal setting
Participative approach
Instrumental support
Job type communication before goal setting
Job type participative approach
Job type instrumental support

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

R2

R2

.32**

.21**
.37**

.20**
.36**
.01
.01
.03

.31**
.33**
.07
.01
.03
.18
.46**
.18

.10
.22

.10**
.12**

.23

.01

.31

.08**

7.89

Staff = 0, line = 1.
**p < .01.

positive relationship
behavior.

with

goal-attainment

Mediating Effect of the Perception of


MBO Effectiveness and Goal Commitment
We predicted in Hypothesis 4 that the perception of MBO effectiveness would mediate the
effect of job type on goal commitment and in
Hypothesis 5 that goal commitment would
mediate the effect of job type on goalattainment behaviors. Mediation effects were
tested using the method of Baron and Kenny
(1986). The mediating effect of the perception
of MBO effectiveness was tested as follows.
First, the single correlation between job type
and perception of MBO effectiveness was statistically signicant (r = .30), as shown in
Table 1. Next, as shown in Table 2, perception
of MBO effectiveness was related to goal
Japanese Psychological Association 2016.

commitment after accounting for the effect of


job type ( = .37, p < .01). Finally, goal commitment as a mediator between job type and
goal-attainment behavior was tested. As
shown in Table 2, job type had a signicant
effect on goal commitment after accounting
for effects of the perception of MBO effectiveness ( = .21, p < .01). Thus Hypothesis 4 was
not supported.
The result of hierarchical multiple regression analysis to test the mediating effect of
goal commitment (Hypothesis 5) showed that
job type had a statistically signicant effect on
goal commitment, as shown in Table 2
( = .32, p < .01). Goal commitment was
related to goal-attainment behavior after
accounting for the effect of job type ( = .46,
p < .01; see Table 3). Goal commitment as
a mediator between job type and

305

Fitness of job type and management by objectives

Table 3 Results of hierarchical regression analyses predicting goal-attainment behavior

Step 1
1.
2.
3.

4.

Job type
Goal commitment
Communication before goal setting
Participative approach
Instrumental support
Job type communication before goal setting
Job type participative approach
Job type instrumental support

**

.23

Step 2
.08
.46**

Step 3
.02
.42**
.04
.03
.28**

Step 4
.06
.49**
.04
.08
.29**
.09
.32**
.19

R2

R2

**

.05
.17

.05
.11**

.32

.16**

.38

.06**

10.94

Staff = 0, line = 1.
**p < .01.

Moderating Effects of Supervisor Behavior


We predicted that supervisors behavior in the
goal-setting stage would moderate the relationship between job type and goal commitment (Hypothesis 6) and between job type
and goal-attainment behavior (Hypothesis 7).
We also predicted in both Hypotheses that the
effect of supervisor behavior would be more
inuential for staff personnel than for line personnel. Moderation effects of supervisor
behavior on goal commitment were found.
The interaction of job type participative
approach was signicant, as shown in Table 2.
A graph of the interaction, using the approach
of Aiken and West (1991), is presented in
Figure 1, which shows the relationship
between type of job and goal commitment at a
high level of participative goal-setting
approach (one standard deviation above the
mean) and at a low level of participative goalsetting approach (one standard deviation
below the mean).
Line personnel with a high participative
approach showed the highest goal commitment. Staff personnels commitment was low

regardless of the degree of supervisor behavior. The participative approach of the supervisor had more inuence on line than on
staff personnel. Thus, although a moderating
effect of supervisor behavior on goal commitment was found, Hypothesis 6 was not
supported.
As shown in Table 3, a moderating effect
of supervisor behavior on goal-attainment
behavior was found. The interaction of job
type participative approach was signicant,
as shown in Figure 2, which shows the relationship between type of job and goalattainment behavior at a high level of participative goal-setting approach (one standard
deviation above the mean) and at a low level
of participative goal-setting approach (one
6.0
5.0
Goal Commitment

goal-attainment behavior was tested. As


shown in Table 3, job type had a nonsignicant effect on goal-attainment behavior after
accounting for the effects of goal commitment
( = .08, p > .05). These results revealed that
goal commitment mediated the relationship
between job type and goal-attainment behavior. Therefore Hypothesis 5 was supported.

Low Participative Goal-Setting Approach


High Participative Goal-Setting Approach

4.0
3.0
2.0

1.0

Staff

Line

Figure 1 Moderating effect of supervisors participative goal-setting behavior on relationship between type
of job and goal commitment.
Japanese Psychological Association 2016.

306

S. Yanagizawa and H. Furukawa

standard deviation below the mean). The


effect of participative approach on goalattainment behavior was stronger in staff than
in line personnel. Thus Hypothesis 7 was partially supported.

Discussion
To investigate the possible inuences of job
characteristics on the effectiveness of management systems, we examined differences in perceptions between production line workers and
staff workers about the effectiveness of MBO
in terms of performance, goal commitment,
and goal-attainment behavior.
Line personnel perceived MBO as more
effective for performance than staff personnel.
They also showed higher goal commitment
and more active goal-attainment behavior than
staff personnel. Taken together, the present
evidence suggests that the effectiveness of a
management system may differ depending on
job characteristics, with MBO a better t to
line positions than to staff positions.
The result might also be interpreted based
on the idea of supplementary t, in the personenvironment t paradigm. Supplementary t
occurs when a person supplements, embellishes, or possesses characteristics that are similar to other individuals in an environment
(Muchinsky & Monahan, 1987, p. 269). Studies
on supplementary t have examined the

Goal Attainment Behavior

6.0
5.0

Low Participative Goal-Setting Approach


High Participative Goal-Setting Approach

4.0
3.0
2.0
1.0

Staff

Line

Figure 2 Moderating effect of supervisors participative goal-setting behavior on relationship between type
of job and goal-attainment behavior.
Japanese Psychological Association 2016.

congruence of characteristics, such as values


and goals, between employees and organizations (Kristof, 1996). A meta-analysis has indicated that supplementary t was related to
employees attitudes, including high organizational commitment, high job satisfaction, and
low intent to quit (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005). Past studies on supplementary t have focused on non-operational
goals
that
reected
value
priorities
(Vancouver & Schmitt, 1991), whereas the
present study focused on outcome goals. The
overall results of the present study, albeit certain differences, suggested that the congruence
of outcome goals between the production line
and organization were related to line personnels positive attitudes and behaviors of
employees.
Although it may be desirable to adopt HR
management and HR practices according to
job characteristics, this is expensive and difcult to realize. To increase the tness between
management system and jobs, it may be both
practical and effective to adjust operational
processes depending on job characteristics.
Workplace supervisors would have to make
these adjustments in their places of business.
This study also investigated whether supportive behaviors by supervisors in facilitating
the achievement of members goals moderated
the relationship between job type and goal
commitment. The results indicated that a participative approach by supervisors had a moderating effect on goal commitment. A large
number of previous studies have focused only
on the effect of participation in goal setting
(Earley & Kanfer, 1985), whereas this study
investigated the participative approach of
supervisors on improving understanding
regarding goals through interaction, such as
encouraging subordinates to present their
ideas.
Formally, goal setting in MBO in many
cases involves participative elements, such as
negotiation between supervisor and subordinate. But in the real workplace, the supervisor
does not always put into practice participative
goal setting. In our preliminary research, some
subordinates said that goal setting follows the

Fitness of job type and management by objectives

manual, with little discussion between supervisor and subordinate.


In the present results, line personnel whose
supervisors used a highly participative
approach showed greater goal commitment
than line personnel with low-participative
supervisors. Contrary to expectation, goal
commitment of staff personnel was low
regardless of the participative approach of the
supervisor. Furthermore, only the moderating
effect of the participative approach was identied in this study, possibly because of the interactive inuence of participation and rationale.
The effect of participation on goal commitment has been demonstrated in previous studies (Klein et al., 1999). This study also
demonstrated the identical result in line personnel having a highly participative approach.
However, Latham, Erez, and Locke (1988)
indicated that the effect of participation
decreases when there is no rationale. The
goals of line personnel investigated in this
study were directly relevant to the goals of the
factory, and their tasks were easy to measure
numerically. Therefore it appeared that their
goals were rationale. On the contrary, the
goals of staff personnel had an indirect relationship to the goals of the factory. Moreover,
their job was difcult to measure quantitatively, although they were requested to set
quantitative goals, which lacks a rationale.
Therefore, only the line personnel, who had a
highly participative approach, might have had
higher commitment, whereas even if the
supervisors of staff personnel used a participative approach, it might have been difcult for
them to show high commitment, because of
the reduced rationale.
Another moderating effect of supervisor
behavior was found between job type and
goal-attainment behavior. Staff and line personnel whose supervisors used a highly participative approach showed the same level of
goal-attainment behavior. But staff with lowparticipative supervisors showed the lowest
goal-attainment behavior, as shown in
Figure 2. As suggested by Mossholder and
Dewhirst (1980), the results of this study suggest that supervisors play a crucial role in

307

reducing differences in the tness of management systems originating from job characteristics. However, only a participative approach
among the behaviors of supervisors inuenced
staff personnel more than line personnel.
Latham and Saari (1979) suggested that participation could improve workers understanding
of how to perform a task. The participative
approach investigated in this study included
promoting interactive discussions with members about their goals. The behavior might
have given members a deeper understanding
about the goal and the strategy of goal attainment than examining behaviors of other
supervisors.
This approach of gaining a deeper understanding might be more effective for active
goal-attainment behavior for members in staff
positions having low tness for MBO, than for
members in line positions.
The present results also indicate that job
type was related to perceptions about the
effectiveness MBO in performance and goal
commitment. However, the results did not
show that perceptions mediated between job
type and goal commitment. The data of staff
and line was encoded as 0 and 1, whereas job
characteristics
were
not
quantitatively
assessed in this study. Certain jobs were
grouped as being the same job type, even
though they had slightly different characteristics. For example, jobs such as supplying
material, production planning, and machine
maintenance were all considered staff jobs.
The failure to take these differences into consideration might have resulted in the lack of
mediation effects in perceptions regarding the
effectiveness of MBO between job types and
goal commitment.
The degree of goal commitment and goalattainment behavior observed in this study
was relatively low for Japanese employees,
who are often regarded as hard-working, possibly because MBO policy in the company targeted in this study affected the results. All
company employees were requested to
achieve numerical goals. However, it might
not have been easy, even for line personnel, to
set individually challenging goals, because
Japanese Psychological Association 2016.

308

S. Yanagizawa and H. Furukawa

participants were working in a pharmaceutical


factory in which the production line was routine and tasks were strictly controlled and conducted in teams. Moreover, staff personnel in
the factory conducted tasks that were difcult
to assesses quantitatively, but they were also
requested to set numerical goals. Due to these
circumstances, both line and staff personnel
might not have positively accepted MBO,
which might have resulted in the relatively
low goal commitment and goal-attainment
behavior.
There are certain limitations to this study.
The job types in this study focused on line personnel that manufactured products (N = 113)
and staff personnel (N = 38) that supported
the line. Therefore, job types and the number
of participants were restricted. Further, the
only management system we researched was
MBO. To generalize the results of this study,
it is suggested that the relationships between
other types of jobs that have different characteristics, as well as other management systems,
should be investigated in the future.

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(Received August 26, 2015; accepted June 15, 2016)

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