THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG INTRA-ORGANIZATIONAL
ENVIRONMENT, REAL ESTATE AGENT’S GOAL ORIENTATION AND
Pei-Feng Lee, Kun Shan University, Taiwan
Dr. Ho-Wen Yang, Kun Shan University, Taiwan
The study, with a focus on salespeople’s goal orientations, explores the relationship
between intra-organizational environment factors (including organizational commitment to
learning and competitive climate), salespeople’s goal orientation, and outcome performance.
Three hundreds salespeople and three real estate agent were interviewed as empirical subjects.
The study find that organizational commitment to learning have significantly positive
influence on salespeople’s learning and proving goal orientations, negative impact on
salespeople’s avoiding goal orientation. The results also support that intra-organizational
competitive climate have significantly positive influence on salespeople’s proving and
avoiding goal orientations. Furthermore, the intra-organizational environment indirectly
impact on outcome performance mediating by salespeople’s learning goal orientation.
Finally, implications for salesforce management and recommendations for future research are
Keywords: Organizational environment, goal orientation, salesperson performance.
Real estate market is usually regarded as an inefficient one due to several factors, such
as unclear transaction information, complicated trading process, unequal products,
incomplete information and expensive cost (Marsh and Zumpano, 1988). And real estate
agents are recognized as intermediating factors between buying and selling party with
communication skill (Arnold, 1992) and reducing transaction cost (Elder, et al, 1999).
However, real estate agents are the main salespeople in the real estate agency sector.
Although overtime, variable day-off and sales targets stress from organization make real
estate agents get high pay and reward, the percentage of staff’s leaving is still high. Data from
human resources department in Sin-Yi real estate Company shows the quitting rate of first
year employee is higher than 40%. In addition, statistics of its competitor, Pacific Company,
indicates its rate is also higher than 48%.（Chen,1998） A highly quitting-rate enterprise will
cause many negative influences, such as, increasing incumbent employees’ workload and
psychological stress, losing colleagues’ adherence to company, raising after-cost in personnel
expense significantly and enterprise’s investment in human resources also disappear with
Nevertheless, one frequently observes differences among salesperson in their response
patterns to setbacks or difficulties with sales tasks; some became demoralized and express
little interest in continuing with the sales task, and even quitting sales market (VandeWalle,
2001); whereas others appeared to enjoy the challenge, remained confident that they could
eventually solve the problems. What’s factor leading salespeople appear two entirely different
attitudes and responses after suffering pressure and setback？There are considerably plenty
of relevant researches, studying the effect between different salary system and employees’
effort in real estate sector. This article aims to explain the pattern of salespeople’s response
differences via goal orientation theory, hoping this research can improve managerial
efficiency of human resource and salespeople’s sales targets for opportunely reducing the
negative impact of leaving-office personnel.
This study mainly explores the impact of intra-organizational environment on
salespeople’s goal orientation and outcome performance.
Intra-organizational Environment Goal Orientation Sales Performance
Learning H7 ＋
Competition H2 ＋
H3 ＋ Sales
H8 ＋ performance
H4 ＋ orientation
commitment to H5 ＋
Figural： Research Concept Map
Goal orientation theory is from achievement motivation theory, which was applied by
educational psychology. In recently 20 years, goal orientation theory（achievement goal
theory） plays the most important theory structure explaining individual achievement behavior
and motivation.（Barron & Harackiewicz, 2001） The study, with a focus on the learner’s
learning motivations, explores “Why” they are willing or unwilling to learn some tasks.
Dweck (1986) said, goal orientation will affect individual’s feel toward achievement
emotions，as well as their interpretation, evaluation, and reaction toward learning process.
Dweck and Elliott（1983）discovered children with equal ability present different
responses when they encounter learning tasks failure, due to their different achievement goal.
According to this finding, they divide goal orientation into 2 types to study: learning goal and
performance goal. Dweck also thought one with performance goal aims to show personal
capability or avoid to be regarding as incapability during learning process. However, Urdan
（1997）thought performance goal is not consist with learner’s cognitive, emotional and
behavioral relationship. Perhaps “showing capability ” and “avoid to be regarding as
incapability” are actually different directions. Because of this, goal orientation after mid-90’s
（Elliot, 1997；Middleton & Midgley, 1997） has already divided performance goal into 2
goal orientations by tendency or avoidance focus: Approach performance and avoidance
performance. Therefore, this study takes these 3 goal orientation as structure to carry out
Influence of Intra-organizational Competitive Climate
Intra-organizational competitive climate means that “employee’s perception to
organization’s rewards by judging staff’s performance” (Brown, Cron & Slocum, 1998).
VandeWalle (2001) claimed that competition impedes salesperson’s learning. Previous
experiments using students as empirical subjects almost indicates competitive environment
will restrain students’ learning motivation as well as encouraging their avoiding orientation
behavior (Chang and Lin 1997 Lam et al., 2004); meanwhile, learner’s avoiding orientation
behavior has positive connection with test, anxiety of negative opinion (Cron, Slocum and
VandeWalle, 2002; Middleton and Midgley, 1997).
Furthermore, Ames and Amds (1984) figured out that when learners encounter
competitive pressure, they will focus on proving their capability and comparison themselves
with others. Accordingly, competitive environment can easily trigger people’s motivation of
performance goal. Lam. Moreover, research from Yim, Law & Cheung (2004) revealed that
there are more sampling students showing goal orientation behavior by contrast to
non-competitive circumstance (choosing easy tasks to ensure they can achieve sales targets in
order to get beneficial evaluation); Church, Elliot and Gable (2001) adopted college students
as empirical subjects, and the data showed classroom environment factor—evaluation focus
has positive influence on student’s performance goal orientation. Besides, Brown et al., (1998)
research aiming some medical equipment salespeople demonstrated that after salespeople
comprehend intra-organizational competitive climate, their predetermined sales targets will
be increased. According to analyses above, this study proposes the following hypotheses.
Hypothesis 1: Intra-organizational competitive climate has remarkable negative influence
on salespeople’s learning goal orientations
Hypothesis 2: Intra-organizational competitive climate has remarkable positive influence
on salespeople’s proving goal orientations
Hypothesis 3: Intra-organizational competitive climate has remarkable positive influence
on salespeople’s avoiding goal orientations
The Influence of Organizational Commitment to Learning
From the point of view of market information processing, Sinkula, Baker, and
Noordewier (1997) not only developed 3 facet to measure organization learning concept:
commitment to learning, sharing prospect and relaxing mind, but also redefined
intra-organizational commitment to learning as “Employee’s perception about learning is the
main basic value”(Baker and Sinkula, 1999) On the basis of former definition of psychology
climate, intra-organizational commitment to learning is also a kind organization psychology
climate in employees’ cognition, which performs two important functions: (1) Information
function -- intra-organizational commitment to learning conveys several messages such as
“The significance of continuous learning”, “Organization supports staff to improve their
capability through learning” as well as “Mistakes during learning process can be tolerant” to
employees；(2) Encouragement function -- intra-organizational commitment to learning
makes staff understand “Learning is the access to success.” Through information and
encouragement function, intra-organizational commitment to learning can act as motives,
encouraging staff to learn goal orientation. (Sujan, Weitz and Sujan,1988) Besides,
intra-organizational learning environment urges employees taking personal standard to
estimate their own success (or failure) (Ames and Ames, 1984), it could lower learner’s
anxiety toward “Whether mistakes in the learning process will reveal their incapability”, and
moreover decrease their inclination to avert goal orientation.
Furthermore, when employees receive organization’s support, they will feel obligation to
organization and then take a positive manner to – boost promise toward organization
(Wayne, Shore and Liden, 1997), repay company acts to support organizational goal.
(Armeli, Eisenberger, Fasolo and Lynch, 1998) Researcher supposed the concrete action of
intra-organizational commitment to learning is to display in staff’s learning investment as
well as toleration of mistakes during learning process, which are beneficial staff’s capability
development (Sujan et al., 1988). As a result of this, employees may commit themselves to
pursue higher sales performance to repay organization based on a reciprocal standpoint.
(Chonko, 1986) In terms of analyses above, hypotheses are proposed blow.
Hypothesis 4: Intra-organizational commitment to learning has remarkable positive
influence on salespeople’s learning goal orientations
Hypothesis 5: Intra-organizational commitment to learning has remarkable positive
influence on salespeople’s proving goal orientations
Hypothesis 6: Intra-organizational commitment to learning has remarkable negatiue
influence on salespeople’s avoiding goal orientations
The Relationship Between Goal Orientation and Outcome Performance
Judging by goal orientation theory of educational psychology, (1) Learning goal
orientation is from individual’s inner interest in work (Meece et al.,1988)；(2) The one with
learning goal orientation will not be troubled by mistakes of learning process (Dweck &
Leggett,1988)；(3) The one with learning goal orientation believes effort is the key to success,
which improves personal capability and consequently has positive influence on outcome
Researchers from the linkage between proving goal and avoiding goal, the relationship
between sales performance and outcome performance infer that (1) Salespeople of proving
goal orientations make more efforts to obtain better performance and then evaluation from
others (Sujan et al.,1994)；(2) Knowledge and skill are major factors to affect outcome
performance. And those who have proving goal orientations possess higher
self-cognition(Skaalvik,1997)；(3) Those who have avoiding goal orientations regard further
efforts are in vain, just proving incapability themselves. (Dweck & Leggett,1988)；(4) Those
who have avoiding goal orientations are relatively unwilling to try out untested new sales
methods which further catch other’s negative evaluations toward their capability. Base on
analyses above, this study proposes hypotheses from No.7 to 9, and then test the mediating
effect of goal orientations in hypothesis 10.
Hypothesis 7: Salespeople’s learning goal orientations have remarkable positive influence
on outcome performance
Hypothesis 8: Salespeople’s learning goal orientations have remarkable positive influence
on outcome performance
Hypothesis 9: Salespeople’s learning goal orientations have remarkable negative influence
on outcome performance
Hypothesis 10: Intra-organizational environment indirectly impact on outcome
performance through goal orientations. (Intervening Variablet testing)
The Structure of Sample Size
This study takes real estate agents of Tainan area as experimental subjects, sending total
450 questionnaires and collecting 362 copies, the response rate of those questionnaires is 80.4
%. After deductions from incomplete questionnaires, there are total 303 valid samples were
selected to analyze. From analysis valid samples data, population structure indicates: real
estate agents are mainly male (61.4%), the educational background is nearly college and
upwards 35.6%） sales work experience are mostly from 1 year upwards to 3 years (31.7%);
And the operational types of company are mainly franchise stores of nationwide brands
(75.6%), and 72.9% of company principally adopt high reward and low base pay policy.
The questionnaire’s variable facet and question content are formed on the basis of
literature reviews, research goal and deliberation of previous researches. There are 35
questions with a six-point scale, whose 1 means totally unmatched, while 6 means totally
match. This study takes Multiple Regression Analysis to test hypotheses, explaining scale’s
testing procedure below firstly and then secondly reliability and validity.
Scale reliability and validity analysis
This scale is tested via previous procedure, intra-organizational factor subscale delete 2
questions and total MSA value of other 7 questions reaches 0.80, which is suitable for factor
analysis. Two factors whose eigenvalues are greater than 1 are extracted from principal
component analysis and varimax rotation, cumulatively explaining variable quantity 61.52%.
Besides, Goal orientation subscale delete 4 questions, and total MSA value of other 16
questions reaches 0.87. And three factors whose eigenvalues are greater than 1 are extracted
from principal component analysis and varimax rotation, cumulatively explaining variable
quantity 62.67%. Regarding the 6 questions about sales performance are all kept, and its total
MSA value reaches 0.89, cumulatively explaining variable quantity 62.67%. Based on the
value of Cronbach’s Alpha in each factor are more than 0.70, scale’s reliability could be
accepted. Besides, each factor’s questions matches original design dimensions, therefore
proving the applicable construct validity of this scale.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION
The Influence of Intra-organizational Environment Factor to Agent’s Goal Orientations
Table 1 below explains the results of empirical analyses.
Sales managers usually use competition, a kind of method, to encourage salespeople
pursue higher sales performance. However, from the viewpoints of theory before,
Competition will not only impede staff’s learning, but also further encourage their proving
and avoiding orientation motivations. Based on the analysis of this study, real estate
managers perceive that the increasing competition climate makes their staff incline to proving
and avoiding goal orientations, but it has unobvious impact on learning orientation. In
conclusion, competition climate not necessarily obstruct employee’s learning motivation.
In addition, many scholars emphasize the importance of the intra-organizational
commitment to learning. The Model1~3 of Table 1 presents salespeople sense that the
increasing competition climate makes their staff incline to learning and proving goal
orientations, and has obvious negative impact on avoiding orientation. Kim & Renee(1993)
thought intra-organizational commitment to learning could be achieved by accumulating
personal learning effect. This study can not only demonstrate the impact of
intra-organizational learning environment on personal learning goal orientation, but also
reveal it could encourage employee to repay company in terms of proving goal orientation.
Table 1. The regression analysis of intra-organizational environment and goal orientations and sales
Dependent Variable learning proving Avoiding Sales Performance
Independent Variable orientation orientation orientation
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
0.05 0.30*** 0.19*** 0.166* 0.128
commitment to 0.41*** 0.25*** -0.18** -0.168* -0.147
learning orientation -0.25*** -0.218**
proving orientation 0.22** 0.227**
avoiding orientation -0.05 -0.079
Adj.R2 0.17 0.19 0.04 0.04 0.07 0.09
F值 32.79*** 35.79*** 7.755** 6..331* 8.458*** 6.841***
p<0.05* p<0.01** p<0.001***
The Relationship between Manager’s Goal Orientation and Outcome Performance
From the Model 5 of Table 1 presents salespeople’s proving goal orientation has obvious
positive influence on outcome performance, but avoiding goal orientation has unapparent
impact on outcome performance. By contrast to the previous results, this analysis shows
something different, that is, proving goal orientation has obvious negative influence on
outcome performance. This study supposes salespeople with learning goal style, spend more
time in learning professional knowledge and sales techniques at the initial stage, thus
somewhat affect their outcome performance in a short time. However, from the long-term
view, perhaps their outcome performances are positive. Consequently, inference above can be
tested by follow-up investigations later.
Besides, the Model 4 and 6 of Table 1 shows intra-organizational learning competition
climate and intra-organizational commitment to learning indirectly influence outcome
performance by means of goal orientation. For this reason, the hypothesis 10
intra-organizational environment affects outcome performance through goal orientationalso
Suggestions on Management Practice
In the past, student-centered researches mainly emphasize people with performance goal
orientations will appear maladaptive pattern when they face difficulties and challenge tasks.
Nevertheless, this study shows proving goal orientations are still necessary in the enterprise
organization, and the maladaptive pattern is more likely to be those who has avoiding goal
orientation. According to empirical research result, this study provides several suggestions
below for sales managers, human resources department, and senior managers to consult.
1. Select suitable salespeople: this study shows proving goal orientation benefits
improving salespeople’s outcome performance, whereas avoiding goal orientation obstructs
sales behavior’s improvement. Hence, this study suggests human resource department and
sales manager to evaluate candidates by salespeople’s goal orientation scale, selecting the one
with strong proving goal orientation.
Regarding the some Taiwan companies incline to choose non-experience people as their
staff, this study also proves that from analyses. In the process of educational training, new
employees with learning goal orientation will likely continuously focus on the tasks, adjust
leaning strategies based on their own understanding and play the active role in the learning.
Thus, they present after more possibility in keeping skills after training programs
2. Establish an environment emphasizing learning: Organization nowadays faces rapidly
change, intensively competitive economic environments. Therefore, origination’s persistent
advantages in competition come from every staff’s learning and their accumulated
knowledge, (Senge, 1990) but organizational culture or intra- organizational environment is
more likely encourage or prevent employees’ learning.
This study shows intra-organizational commitment to learning can raise real estate
agent’s learning and proving goal orientation, but competition climate simultaneously leads
salespeople’s proving and avoiding goal orientation. Furthermore, real estate agency’s
implementation of organization system and policies (such as competitive rewards and
performance evaluation system) may triggers employee’s avoiding goal orientation. As a
result, in order to ease the negative influence of competition climate, sales managers should
carefully provide supervision ways as well as some feedbacks helping proving and learning
goal orientation (Sujan et al., 1994; Farr et al., 1993) (Kohli et al., 1998) Moreover, through
the learning environment establishment inside organization like designing behavior-based
sales system (Anderson & Oliver, 1987), senior managers can offer all kinds of advanced
training programs to strengthen salespeople’s motivations in learning goal orientation.
Suggestions for Follow-up Researches
Suggested follow-up researches are shown as follows:
1. Recent researchers on goal orientation advocate using inclination/avoidance focus and
proficiency/performance orientation to reconstruct goal orientation theory and further divide
it into four goals such as inclined proficiency, avoidance proficiency, inclined performance as
well as avoidance performance. Afterwards, the follow-up researches can incorporate with
these four dimensions into consider.
2. Farr et al., (1993) advise applying goal orientation theory on researches of enterprise
organization. The follow-up investigation can focus on organization members to explore
individual goal orientation’s influences on goal setting, self- regulation, reaction to
performance feedback as well as feedback-seeking behavior.
1. Chen Shu-Ling，「The educational training introduction of Pacific real estate agency
company」，employment and training，1998 January，page 79-88。(In Chine)
2. Zheng Fen-Lan、Lin Chin- Shan， 「The test of cause-effect mode in goal orientation」，
educational psychology journal，1997， 29th volume：215~232。(In Chine)
3. Ames, C. and R. Ames, 1984. Goal Structures and Motivation, Elementary School
Journal, 85 (1): pp.39-50.
4. Anderson, E. and R. L. Oliver, 1987. Perspectives on Behavior-Based Versus
Outcome-Based Salesforce Control Systems, Journal of Marketing, 51 (4): 76-88.
5. Armeil, S., Eisenberger, R., Fasolo, P. and Lynch, P. 1998. Perceived Organizational
Support and Police Performance: The Moderating Influence of Socioemotional Needs,
Journal of Applied Psychology, 83 (2): 288−297.
6. Arnold, M. A., The Principal-Agent Relationship in Real Estate Brokerage Services,
Journal of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, Vol. 20, No.1,
7. Barron, B. K., & Harackiewicz, J. M. 2001. Achievement goals and optimal motivation:
Testing multiple goal models. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(5),
8. Brown, S. P., Cron, W. L. and J. W. Slocum Jr., 1998. Effects of Trait Competitiveness
and Perceived Intraorganizational Competition on Salesperson Goal Setting and
Performance, Journal of Marketing, 62 (4): 88−98.
9. Chonko, L. B., 1986. Organizational Commitment in the Sales Force, Journal of
Personal Selling and Sales Management, 6 (3): 19−27.
10. Dweck, C. S. 1986. Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist,
11. Dweck, C. S., & Elliott, E. S. 1983. Achievement motivation. In E. M. Heatherington
(Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Socialization, personality, and social development
(Vol. 4, pp.643-691). New York: Wiley.
12. Dweck, C. S. and E. L. Leggett, 1988. A Social-Cognitive Approach to Motivation and
Personality, Psychological Review, 95 (2): 256−273.
13. Elder, H. W., Zumpano, L. W., and Baryla, E. A. , Buyer Search Intensity and the Role
of the Residential Real Estate Broker, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Vol.
18, No.3, 1999, 351-368.
14. Farr, J. L., Hofmann, D. A. and K. L. Ringenbach, 1993. Goal Orientation and Action
Control Theory: Implications for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, International
Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8: 193−232.
15. Kohli, A. K., Shervani, T. A. and G. N. Challagalla, 1998. Learning and Performance
Orientation of Salespeople: The Role of Supervisors, Journal of Marketing Research, 35
16. Marsh, G A and Zumpano, L. V., Agency Theory and the Changing Role of the Real
Estate Broker: Conflicts and. Possible Solutions. Journal of Real Estate Research, Vol. 2,
No. 3, 1988, 151-164.
17. Skaalvik, E. M., 1997. Self-Enhancing and Self-Defeating Ego Orientation: Relations
with Task and Avoidance Orientation, Achievement, Self-Perceptions, and Anxiety,
Journal of Educational Psychology, 89 (1): 71−81.
18. Sujan, H., Weitz, B. A. and N. Kumar, 1994. Learning Orientation, Working Smart, and
Effective Selling, Journal of Marketing, 58 (3): 39−52.
19. Sujan, H., Weitz, B. A. and M. Sujan, 1988. Increasing Sales Productivity by getting
Salespeople to Work Smarter, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 8 (2):
20. VandeWalle, D., 2001. Goal Orientation: Why Wanting to Look Successful Doesn’t
Always Lead to Success, Organizational Dynamics, 30 (2): 162−171.