The effects of hurdle rates on the level of escalation of commitment in capital budgeting

American Accounting Association
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Behavioural Research in Accounting, 2003, 15 pp. 63 - 85
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This study proposes that organizations should consider project hurdle rates, as part of their control system design, to reduce escalation of commitment behavior in managers. In particular, we empirically examined the escalation of commitment tendencies in managers receiving organization-set, self-set, and no hurdle rates.Consistent with prior expectations, we found self-set hurdle rates to be an effective control mechanism resulting in significantly lower levels of escalation of commitment. Contrary to expectations, however, organization-set hurdle rates were not effective. Self-set hurdle rates also resulted in significantly higher cut-off rates compared to the average return of the investment portfolio held by the managers.As escalation of commitment has been recognized as a serious potential problem in organizations, the use of self-set hurdle rates is a step toward reducing the level of escalation tendencies in managers
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