IS Project Management and Risk Escalation: Towards A Dynamic Model

Angela Y Lin, Nipon Parinyavuttichai


While the number of substantive investments in IS projects continues to grow, the number of failing projects also continues to increase at an alarming rate. Both the academic and industry literature suggests that inadequate attention to risk and its management continues to be a key factor in project failure. The typical approach taken is to identify and map potential risks, to act as a planning and diagnostic tool, and to prepare a contingency plan has been a factor-based approach. While it remains a valuable tool for mapping anticipated risks the factor-based approach is less effective when viewing project risks as emergent phenomena that un-fold during the course of the project, and require ongoing attention and risk management. In-formed by a case study of a failing university IS development project, this paper focuses on the phenomenon of risk escalation. The case findings suggest that rather than being defined ahead of the project, some project risks may emerge during the project as a consequence of escalation factors that were both antecedent to and a consequence of actual risk management decisions. The article concludes with suggestions as to how project managers can better man-age the emergent rather than static nature of risk phenomena.


Information systems risks; Escalating commitment; Emergence; Project management; Risk management

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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