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The Econometrics and Behavioral Economics of Escalation of Commitment: A Re-examination of Staw and Hoang's NBA Data

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  • Camerer, Colin F.
  • Weber, Roberto A.

Abstract

We examine the phenomenon of escalation from an economist's perspective, emphasizing explanations which do not rule out rational behavior on the part of firms or agents. We argue that escalation cannot be established as a separate phenomenon unless these possible alternative explanations are properly accounted for. We present Staw and Hoang's (1995) study of NBA data as an instance of where evidence of escalation might be overturned upon more careful analysis. After performing several tests of our alternative explanations, we find that evidence of escalation persists, although it is weaker both in duration and magnitude.

Suggested Citation

  • Camerer, Colin F. & Weber, Roberto A., 1998. "The Econometrics and Behavioral Economics of Escalation of Commitment: A Re-examination of Staw and Hoang's NBA Data," Working Papers 1043, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:clt:sswopa:1043
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Clark Nardinelli & Curtis Simon, 1990. "Customer Racial Discrimination in the Market for Memorabilia: The Case of Baseball," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 575-595.
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    7. Scharfstein, David S & Stein, Jeremy C, 1990. "Herd Behavior and Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 465-479, June.
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    9. Kanodia, C & Bushman, R & Dickhaut, J, 1989. "Escalation Errors And The Sunk Cost Effect - An Explanation Based On Reputation And Information Asymmetries," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(1), pages 59-77.
    10. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
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