Escalation of Commitment (EoC) - the tendency to persist with failing courses of action - can determine whether a distressed Information Systems (IS) project can be turned around. To disentangle the emotional and cognitive factors that give rise to EoC we conducted a between-subject randomized controlled laboratory experiment with 75 Master, MBA, and Ph.D. students including data triangulation between neurophysiological and behavioral measures. This study successfully replicates the EoC bias in the context of IS project distress, provides evidence for a psychophysiological link, supports the predictions on the role of negative and complex emotional states of self-justification theory over coping theory, and adds to a better understanding of how escalation tendency changes over time due to learning effects. Our findings contribute to enhancing decision-making in uncertain environments by using cognitive and emotional markers and thereby provide the foundation for developing neuro-adaptive de-escalation strategies.
Carolin Marx, Falk Uebernickel
11 Jun 2023