Escalation of Commitment to a Course of Action: The Role of Agency, Framing and National Culture: An Eight Country Study

David A. Sharp, Richard Ivey School of Business
Yasheng Chen, Simon Fraser University
Stephen Salter, University of Texas at El Paso


This study tests the cross-cultural sensitivity of three determinants of escalation of commitment: agency conditions, negative framing, and self-justification. A multiple-case experiment, using a sample of 1208 managers and MBA students surveyed over several years in nine countries investigated the moderating effects of national culture. We find that the effect of negative framing on escalation of commitment is significant, but unaffected by differences in national cultures. The adverse selection problem arising from agency predictions has a stronger effect in high-Individualism countries than in low-Individualism countries, and managers in higher Long-term Orientation countries are more likely to escalate projects with potential long-term payoffs.