Edwin A. Locke

Dean's Professor (Emeritus) of Leadership and Motivation
R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

View CV


  • Business management
  • Psychology of motivation
  • Romantic love
  • Self-esteem
  • Business ethics
  • Setting goals for life and happiness
  • Reason and emotion
  • Free Will

Edwin A. Locke is an American psychologist and codeveloper of goal setting theory, and Dean’s Professor of Motivation and Leadership Emeritus at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. He 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 the author, co-author, or editor of thirteen books, including 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; and 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 G. Latham) was ranked #1 in importance among 73 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 additional 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. 

Career Roles

Professor Emeritus

University of Maryland
2001 – present

Board Member

Board of Directors
Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship


Dean's Professor of Leadership and Motivation
University of Maryland
1998 – 2001

Business and Mangement, and of Psychology
University of Maryland
1967 – 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 Buffet’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”