A hierarchical taxonomy of top managers' goals

Thomas S. Bateman*, Hugh O'Neill, Amy Kenworthy-U'Ren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


To embed goal theories more deeply in the domain of top-level leadership behavior and to provide a vehicle to facilitate future research, the authors developed a taxonomy of managerial goals. Interviews with 75 company leaders - founders and presidents - from 3 countries generated 2,182 articulated goals. Content analysis supported 2 taxonomic dimensions: goal content and hierarchical level. The goal content dimension specified 10 categories of substantive goal targets, and the second dimension captured the hierarchical structure of the top leaders' goal sets, with lower-level goals being instrumental toward achieving superordinate goals. The hierarchy comprised 5 goal levels: ultimate, enterprise, strategic, project, and process. Chi-square analyses revealed relationships between goal content and hierarchical level as well as differences between the national subsamples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1134-1148
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002


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