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Escalating commitment in the death zone: new insights from the 1996 Mount Everest disaster
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2011 (English)In: International Journal of Project Management, ISSN 0263-7863, E-ISSN 1873-4634, Vol. 29, no 8, p. 971-985Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The procession of people and organisations that pour resources into evidently failing causes is surprising and seemingly never-ending. This phenomenon, which is called “escalating commitment” (Staw, 1976), refers to situations in which people are incapable of turning future disasters into sound current decisions. The purpose of this paper is to use the, in project management literature (Kloppenborg and Opfer, 2002), non-traditional case of the 1996 Mt Everest disaster to explain and analyse escalating commitment determinants and processes. Not only does the paper identify and add a determinant to escalation but it also treats determinants and processes in a novel and intertwined fashion. The conceptual developments and findings suggest that escalating commitment strives on conditions that are inherent to any project, which consequently project managers should be aware of. Based on the results project failures could be better explained and understood by examining several explanatory levels simultaneously.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 29, no 8, p. 971-985
Keyword [en]
escalating commitment, temporary organizations, Mount everest, processes
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-47427DOI: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2011.01.013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-47427DiVA, id: diva2:442261
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-20 Last updated: 2018-03-15Bibliographically approved

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