Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Information Systems

First Advisor

Mark Keil - Chair

Second Advisor

Henry Moon

Third Advisor

Arun Rai

Fourth Advisor

Detmar Straub


ABSTRACT ESCALATION OF COMMITMENT IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROJECTS: A GOAL SETTING THEORY PERSPECTIVE BY VIJAY KASI Aug 30, 2007 Committee Chair: Dr. Mark Keil Major Academic Unit: Center for Process Innovation Information technology (IT) projects are prone to failure. One explanation for the high failure rate among IT projects is that managers overly commit to a failing course of action, a phenomenon referred as escalation of commitment. While the notion of goals and commitment are central to the phenomenon of escalation, very few prior studies have investigated their impact on escalation. In this study, a research model rooted in goal setting theory is advanced to better understand escalation of commitment of IT project managers. A role-playing experiment with 350 IT managers was used to test the proposed research model. The results of the study suggest that IT managers are more willing to escalate their commitment under the influence of easy and vague goals compared to difficult and specific goals. Initial goal commitment of IT managers and the level of project completion were found to have a significant effect on IT manager’s willingness to continue. Initial goal commitment of IT managers was also found to moderate the relationship between goal difficulty and willingness to continue. In other words, when there is a higher level of goal commitment, an easy goal will have a greater effect in terms of promoting an individual’s willingness to continue.