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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

A Meta-Analysis of the Sunk Cost Effect on Project Escalation

A Meta-Analysis of the Sunk Cost Effect on Project Escalation
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Author(s): Jijie Wang (Georgia State University, USA) and Mark Keil (Georgia State University, USA)
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 4
Source title: Managing Modern Organizations Through Information Technology
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-822-2.ch058
ISBN13: 9781616921293
EISBN13: 9781466665354


Escalation is a serious management problem and sunk costs can promote escalation behavior. While many laboratory experiments have been conducted to examine the sunk cost effect on escalation, there has been no effort to examine these studies as a group in order to determine the effect size associated with the so-called “sunk cost effect.” Using metaanalysis, we analyzed the results of 20 sunk cost experiments and found: (1) a large effect size associated with sunk costs, (2) variability of effect sizes across experiments that was larger than pure subject-level sampling error, and (3) stronger effects in experiments involving IT projects as opposed to non-IT projects. Implications of the results and future research directions are discussed.

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