MG407E      Half Unit
Goals and Motivation for Individuals and Teams

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Heather Kappes and Prof Amitav Chakravarti


This course is compulsory on the Executive MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

For the modern day enterprise, be it private firms seeking to maximize revenues and profits, non-profit organisations seeking to change behaviours and raise money for pro-social causes, or government bodies seeking to implement policy, the role of goals and motivations is critical, both at the individual level and the team level. For each entity it is important to gain a critical understanding of what kinds of goals individuals and teams are attracted to, how these goals are set and pursued, what factors and incentives aid or hinder such goal pursuit and goal achievement, and how teams and individuals react to feedback on their progress towards these goals. This course familiarises students with strategies for promoting success over every phase of goal pursuit, from first consideration, to commitment, to action, and beyond. Students will learn how to categorise goals using empirically-tested frameworks like construal level theory, regulatory focus theory, and mindset theory (learning versus performance goals). They will use these frameworks to identify the problems that plague goal pursuit: problems like failing to get started (e.g., trying to break a habit), getting derailed (e.g., ego depletion), and continuing when it would be better to quit (e.g., sunk costs phenomenon). Students will be introduced to empirical findings on the optimal ways to use tools like specific goal setting, implementation intentions, mental simulations of processes versus outcomes, and self-efficacy in order to boost motivation and aid in successful goal pursuit.


17 hours and 30 minutes of lectures and 5 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Aarts, H., & Elliot, A. (Eds.) Goal-directed behavior. (2011). Philadelphia: Psychology Press/Taylor & Francis.

Dweck, C.S. (2007). The secret to raising smart kids. Scientific American: Mind. December/January, 36-43.

Hassin, R., Ochsner, K., & Trope, Y. (Eds.) Self control in society, mind, and brain. (2010). Oxford University Press.

Ordonez, Lisa D., Schweitzer, Maurice E., Galinsky, Adam D. and Bazerman, Max H., Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting (January 23, 2009). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 09-083. Available at SSRN:

Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (Eds.) Handbook of self-regulation. (2011). Guilford Press.


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2014/15: Unavailable

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills