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Judgment and Decision Making in Project Continuation: A Study of Students as Surrogates for Experienced Managers


  • C. Janie Chang,

  • Joanna L. Y. Ho

  • C. Janie Chang is a Professor in Accounting at San Jose State University ( and Joanna L. Y. Ho an Associate Professor in Accounting at University of California, Irvine.

    The authors thank the editorial reviewers, Mark Beasley, Chee Chow, Laura Ingraham, Molly Jindanuwat, Robin Keller, Ping Lin, Sandra Vera-Muñoz, Rod Smith, Pat Thomas, and research workshop participants at University of California, Irvine, North Carolina State University, and University of North Texas for their helpful comments and suggestions. We also thank Agnes Cheng and Li-Chin Ho for their help in data collection. The data and all experimental materials used in this study can be acquired on request from either author.


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.

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