IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The role of information asymmetry in escalation phenomena: Empirical evidence


  • Berg, Joyce E.
  • Dickhaut, John W.
  • Kanodia, Chandra


Economic rationality dictates that only incremental costs and benefits should affect decisions. Observed behavior often seems to violate this principle, resulting in unwarranted commitment to past choices and their escalation. In this paper, we present experimental results that show that information asymmetry plays a key role in determining when such escalation behavior occurs. This finding opens new avenues for mitigating escalation behavior since information asymmetry is an environmental feature that can be modified by organization design and explicit economic rewards.

Suggested Citation

  • Berg, Joyce E. & Dickhaut, John W. & Kanodia, Chandra, 2009. "The role of information asymmetry in escalation phenomena: Empirical evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 135-147, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:69:y:2009:i:2:p:135-147

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heath, Chip, 1995. "Escalation and De-escalation of Commitment in Response to Sunk Costs: The Role of Budgeting in Mental Accounting," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 38-54, April.
    2. R. Preston Mcafee & Hugo M. Mialon & Sue H. Mialon, 2010. "Do Sunk Costs Matter?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(2), pages 323-336, April.
    3. Prendergast, Canice & Stole, Lars, 1996. "Impetuous Youngsters and Jaded Old-Timers: Acquiring a Reputation for Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1105-1134, December.
    4. repec:bla:joares:v:27:y:1989:i:1:p:59-77 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Arkes, Hal R. & Blumer, Catherine, 1985. "The psychology of sunk cost," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 124-140, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Borland, Jeff & Lee, Leng & Macdonald, Robert D., 2011. "Escalation effects and the player draft in the AFL," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 371-380, June.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:69:y:2009:i:2:p:135-147. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.