Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Information Systems

First Advisor

Mark Keil


Escalation of commitment is manifested as a behavior in which an individual resists withdrawing from a failing course of action despite negative feedback, and it is an enduring problem that occurs in a variety of situations, including R&D investment decisions and software project overruns. To date, a variety of theoretical explanations have been offered as to what causes escalation of commitment, including personal responsibility, the sunk cost effect, and the completion effect. Nonetheless, what is missing in our understanding is the role that goals can play in escalation situations. This represents a significant gap in escalation research, as goals are a fundamental element driving many human behaviors. Further, escalation researchers recently suggested that escalation behavior can be understood as an activity that is directed by goals. Therefore, this dissertation aims to generate insights regarding the impact of goals on escalation of commitment by drawing on goal setting and goal orientation theories. This dissertation consists of four essays each of which involves one or more studies.


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