Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management

Committee Chair

Dawn Utley

Committee Member

Sampson Gholston

Committee Member

Phillip Farrington

Committee Member

Eric Sholes

Committee Member

Stephanie Reitmeier

Committee Member

Sandra Carpenter


Organizational learning--Psychology., Personality and occupation., Personality., Employees--Attitude.


A key aspect of the engineering manager’s job is employee development. Research has shown that an individual’s goal orientation plays an important role in the development of occupational expertise development. This research examines the effects of personality traits on goal orientation and the implication on workforce training for engineers and scientists. A survey instrument was compiled based on a set of personality traits that have been hypothesized to relate to goal orientation. The survey was distributed in a federally-funded research and development laboratory in the aviation and aerospace industry. A total of 294 completed responses were received. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was utilized to analyze the relationships between personality traits and goal orientation. The results of the analysis support the hypothesis that personality traits are related to goal orientation. The data showed that general self-efficacy, agreeableness, and extraversion were all significantly positively related to a Mastery Approach goal orientation. The Mastery Approach goal orientation has been found to be the sole goal orientation correlated with the development of occupational expertise. Research has shown that current methods of training do not meet the needs of the current workplace. By getting a better understanding of how each individual relates to goal setting, more employees can develop towards expertise. An approach to employee development that tailors a plan to each individual’s personality profile and current self-efficacy may help develop a desirable goal orientation.



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