TH-P02-036 - Does Goal Orientation and Outcome Certainty Predict Escalation of Commitment?

Poster Presentation
3 hours 30 minutes
O'Brien Foyer
Leadership and management
Does Goal Orientation and Outcome Certainty Predict Escalation of Commitment?
A. T. Jackson*, S. S. Culbertson 1, J. L. Kriegh 2, E. E. Kausel 3, N. Ramirez Campos 4
1University of Portland, Portland, 2Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, United States, 3Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile, 4Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, United States
Escalation of commitment refers to continuing with a course of action, even when it’s irrational (Sleesman, Conlon, McNamara, & Miles, 2012; B. M. Staw, 1976).  The purpose of this study was to (1) examine whether the certainty of a decision’s outcome impacts escalation of commitment and (2) whether one’s goal orientation predicts escalation of commitment.
First, participants completed an online measure of goal orientation. Later, participants made a series of decisions based on the rule guessing game originally presented by Wong and Kwong (2011).  Participants were randomly assigned to the different outcome certainty conditions (i.e., jars contained 25, 50, or 100 marbles). Participants guessed which of two jars contained a black marble.  After making five guesses from one jar, participants could draw marbles from either jar.  Escalation of commitment was displayed by continuing to draw marbles from the original jar.
A repeated measures logistic regression revealed that (1) learning goal orientation was a significant predictor of escalation of commitment (2) neither performance goal orientation dimension predicted escalation of commitment, and (3) outcome certainty did not impact escalation of commitment.  
This study relied on undergraduate students.  Future research should examine workers responsible for making decisions.
Research/Practical Implications
Regardless of the certainty of a decision’s outcome, people are equally likely to escalate their commitment.  This could be problematic for decision makers, especially if the outcome is certainly negative.
This study is unique in its examination of goal orientation and outcome certainty as predictors of escalation of commitment. 


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