Managing Information Technology Project Escalation and De-Escalation: An Approach-Avoidance Perspective
IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, (56:1), 2009, pp. 76-94
Posted: 21 Apr 2013
Date Written: February 20, 2009
This paper presents an integrated theoretical process model for identifying, describing and analyzing the complex escalation and de-escalation phenomena in software development projects. The Approach-avoidance theory is used to integrate core elements of various escalation theories into a holistic, explanatory framework for the two phenomena. We use a process model to identify antecedent conditions, sequences of events, critical incidents and outcomes over the course of a project. The analysis also operates at multiple levels: project, work and environment. This highlights the recursive interactions between project, organizational work activities and their contexts during the software project development process. By conceiving the processes of commitment escalation and de-escalation as sequences of events involving recurring approach avoidance decision conflict, this research allows for a deeper understanding of the ambiguity and dilemma that decision makers face during project escalations and deescalations. Our proposed model was both informed by a detailed case study that exhibits both project escalation and de-escalation conditions and at the same time illuminates the perspectives of various stakeholders.
Keywords: Escalation, de-escalation, approach-avoidance theory, process theory, case
JEL Classification: M40
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