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In-depth Discussion About Nonrational Escalation of Commitment

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You and your co-workers had an in-depth discussion about nonrational escalation of commitment. Use your best communication techniques to discuss the following questions:

- Identify the possible original decisions, the person(s) who could make it, and the person(s) who may escalate the commitment to that decision.
- Describe the circumstances that led to the commitment being escalated.
- Where do you think the nonrational escalation of commitment may occur?
- Explain why the escalation is nonrational.
- Discuss the impact of this escalation of commitment.

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Please note that escalation of commitment, especially non rational, takes place due to several reasons. If we consider with the organizational recruitment decision in the question given above, the recruitment of some person initially takes place because of a friendship or relationship. Then the decision escalates. Even when the company needs highly technical as well as qualified persons each person in the decision making process fishes around for friends and relatives to the detriment of the company. The relatives of the owner or the HRD chief by right ask for positions because someone else who was not suitably qualified has got into the company. The impact is mind-boggling, even before the position arises there is a queue of relatives waiting and fighting for the post. So substandard recruitment continues and it becomes impossible for the managers to refuse favors. In management literature there are several such instances and you can use the articles given below.

The escalation of commitment is not necessarily a constructive course of strategic action. A number of organizational theorists have defined the escalation of a commitment in terms of non-rationality. For example, escalation situations occur when a decision-maker is faced with a situation where costs are incurred in pursuit of an objective that is unlikely to occur, regardless of any future course of action undertaken. When the initial decision is reconsidered, it is possible that the commitment will be escalated. A common example of an escalation situation occurs when businesses continue to lose on an investment because the associated sunk costs often force managers to overlook viable alternatives even conclude that "commitment is expected to involve a snowballing process."


Self-justification has been attributed as the main cause of escalation of commitment. When decision-makers become trapped in a losing situation, they tend to justify their original decision. Ironically, the commitment to the original decision actually increases in the face of costs. The costs are justified by emphasizing the correctness of the original decision. From a theoretical perspective, cognitive theories of self-justification focus on how negative consequences lead to increased commitment despite costs and benefits. This need for justifying an ineffective course of action has been shown to result from such factors as the extent of responsibility for losses, ego-defensiveness, and the involvement of others in the situation. The greater the responsibility for the losses, the more likely an ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the escalation of commitment in 1480 words.