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Towards a practice theory of goal setting: assessing the theoretical goal-setting of a leprosy organisation in Nigeria

Goal-setting is indispensable for effective healthcare management. Yet, literature evidence suggests many organisations worldwide do not know how to formulate ‘SMART’ goals. Evidence of how existing theories work in practice is scarce, and the practices in low-income countries are unknown. Therefore, this research explored how leprosy project goals were formulated to describe the theoretical practice framework of A leprosy-focused organisation in Nigeria. Using a case-study design, ten managers were interviewed individually concerning their goal-setting knowledge, experience and perspective; and documented goals of six projects were reviewed. A five-step constructionist thematic data analysis generated eleven theoretical frameworks from the concepts of the emergent core themes of ‘stakeholders’, ‘strategies’ and ‘statements.’ Further theorisation reduced them to one general framework. This revealed organisational goal-setting practice as a four-stage centre-led, top-down, beneficiary-focused and problem-based process. The stages were national preparation, baseline needs-survey, centralised goal formulation and nationalised planning. The outcome was the formulation of assigned, ‘non-SMART’ objective statements, which are then used for planning projects. Other theoretical models constructed included a Goal Effects Cycle, ‘SMARTA’ goal attributes and hierarchical criteria for differentiating goal-types. A theory developed from the goal-setting practice postulates that: ‘Assigned non-SMART goal formulation directly results from centralised goal-setting practice and is the predictor of unrealistic project planning.’ Therefore, I propose that goal statements will be ‘SMARTA’ and plans, more realistic and relevant if goal-setting is done collaboratively by all stakeholders at all stages of the process. Also, ‘Change-Beneficiary-Indicator-Target-Timeframe’ and ‘Change-Beneficiary-Location-Timeframe’ frameworks are recommended as templates for writing SMART objectives and aims respectively.

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Ogbeiwi O
Year of Publication
Beau Bassin: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing.
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