• Decision making;
  • Management accounting;
  • Project evaluation;
  • Surrogacy

This work explores the efficacy of using students as surrogates for experienced managers in escalation studies. Participants were 222 managers with substantial project planning and evaluation experience and 146 undergraduate business students. Our results show that the experienced managers exhibited a strong tendency to continue projects, with this tendency being positively related to the degree of project completion. The managers also tended to invest a greater amount of additional resources in response to favourable rather than to unfavourable information, contingent on the degree of project completion. In contrast, the students’ decisions showed little sensitivity to the contextual information, and they exhibited no association between the likelihood they would continue a project and how much funding they would allocate to the project. These results suggest that caution is needed in generalizing student-based escalation findings to real-world business settings.