Scholar Bio

Edwin A. Locke is an American psychologist and co-developer of goal setting theory. He is Dean’s Professor of Motivation and Leadership Emeritus at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, and was also affiliated with the Department of Psychology.

He has published more than 320 chapters, notes and articles in professional journals on such subjects as work motivation, job satisfaction, incentives and the philosophy of science. He is an author, co-author, or editor of fourteen books, including:

  • The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will Is Real and Causal
  • The Selfish Path to Romance: How to Love with Passion and Reason
  • Study Methods and Study Motivation
  • Goal Setting: A Motivational Technique That Works!
  • A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance
  • Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior
  • The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators
  • Postmodernism and Management: Pros, Cons and the Alternative
  • New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance

He is internationally known for his research on goal setting. A survey found that Dr. Locke’s goal setting theory (developed with Gary Latham) was ranked #1 in importance among seventy-three management theories and is generally considered to be the leading theory of motivation in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.

Dr. Locke has been elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science and the Academy of Management, and has received many other scholarly awards. He has been a consulting editor for leading journals.

He has written articles and given talks for the Ayn Rand Institute and is interested in the application of the philosophy of Objectivism to behavioral sciences. He is a member of the board of directors of the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship.

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  • Business management
  • Psychology of motivation
  • Self-esteem
  • Business ethics
  • Free Will


Professor Emeritus

  • University of Maryland
    2001 – present

Board Member

  • Board of Directors
    Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship


  • Business and Management; Psychology
    University of Maryland
    1967 – 2001
  • Dean’s Professor of Leadership and Motivation
    University of Maryland
    1998 – 2001

Selected Work

Scholarly Articles

  • “Business Ethics: A Way Out of the Morass” in Academy of Management Learning and Education (2006)
  • “What Is Capitalism? Some Comments on Kasser, Cohn, Kanner and Ryan” in Psychological Inquiry (2007)
  • Review of J. Bean (ed.), Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader in Human Resource Management (2011)

Talks & Lectures

  • “Rational Principles of Management”
  • “Setting Goals to Improve Your Life and Happiness”
  • “The Life and Achievements of Thomas Edison”
  • “Studies of American Business Heroes”
  • “General Electric: A Corporation Without Peer”
  • “Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway vs. Ken Lay’s Enron”
  • “Wal-Mart: The Story of the World’s Greatest Retailer”
  • “Heroic Business Dynasties”
  • “Traits of Business Heroes”
  • “The Assault on Self-Esteem”