Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 35 Number 4 2018 pp. 1251-1276

Using Perspective-Taking to De-escalate Launch Date Commitment for Products with Known Software Defects

Lee, Hyung Koo, Lee, Jong Seok, and Keil, Mark


Previous research in software product development used the lens of escalation of commitment to study the problem of adhering to original product launch dates and suggested that decisions related to launching new products can be particularly prone to escalation of commitment because they involve a high level of uncertainty and large financial stakes. In this study, we propose perspective-taking as a de-escalation tactic to reduce product managers’ commitment to the original product launch date when faced with severe software defects. In two laboratory experiments, we found that when participants took the perspective of product users who might be negatively affected by the launch of a defective software product, their commitment de-escalated more than when they took a shareholder’s perspective. We also found that anticipated guilt about launching the product as scheduled mediated the relationship between perspective-taking and de-escalation. In addition, one of the experiments involved severe consequences associated with the software defects; in that case, we found that the mediation effect of anticipated guilt was moderated by the product managers’ customer orientation. This study makes a theoretical contribution to the literature of de-escalation of commitment by proposing perspective-taking as a new de-escalation tactic, and by demonstrating the affect-based mechanism of perspective-taking that operates through anticipated guilt. While practitioners may use perspective-taking as an effective tactic in reducing commitment to launching a defective software product, our findings highlight the importance of selecting the appropriate target perspective.

Key words and phrases: new product development, software defects, software launch, product launch decision, de-escalation of commitment, perspective-taking, customer orientation