Information Systems Project Post-Mortems: Insights from an Attribution Perspective
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (58:14), 2007, pp. 2255-2268
Posted: 21 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 20, 2007
Information systems (IS) project failure is a costly and common problem. This is despite advances in development tools and technologies. In this article, we argue that one reason for this is the failure of project postmortems to generate constructive “lessons learned” from previous projects. Over time, the ineffective practices would persist in the organization, rendering it resistant to change. The attribution theory literature serves as one of the few promising theoretical bases to explain why project post-mortems fail. A case study of a project post-mortem undertaken for an abandoned electronic procurement system project is discussed and analyzed. We identify five antecedent conditions of attribution error: the presence of self-appointed mindsets, the general persistence of negative beliefs, memory decay, selective recall of project events and the influence of power dynamics within the organization. We discuss the research and practical implications of these findings and suggest how the problem of attribution error may be minimized in project post-mortems.
Keywords: Information systems project post-mortem, information system failure, attribution theory, antecedent conditions of attribution error
JEL Classification: M40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation