Unveiling Initial Commitment: How Emotional Commitment Precedes and Determines Action. The Role of Emotional Commitment in Consumer Innovation Projects

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In most firms, innovation projects take up huge amounts of resources. Managing these projects often proofs to be difficult. Innovation projects are characterized by high uncertainty. It requires decision-makers to make the most rational decisions given the circumstances. Such decisions start with the search for, and usage of the right information. Assessing the risks that matter and allocating the right amount of resources are important follow-up steps. These attributes of rational decision-making are not always implemented in a rational way. Particularly, escalation of commitment is such a phenomenon in which decision-makers make sub-optimal or even irrational follow-up decisions. The question then arises as to what this commitment to less rational actions is before it escalates. Specifically, the creation and build-up of initial commitment to actions remains unclear. Two studies were performed. The objective of the studies was to investigate the creation and build-up of initial emotional commitment in situations of high uncertainty. Antecedents of emotional commitment and its effects on decision-making effectiveness (information usage, risk perception, and resource allocation) were examined. Several theories were used; among them were escalation of commitment theory, expectancy theory, and prospect theory. In the decision-making experiment, antecedents of emotional commitment were manipulated to create different levels of emotional commitment between groups. Differences in decision-making effectiveness were observed, while all respondents received the same information packages to base their decisions on. Analyses of Variance and Paired Samples t-Tests were used to compare means between and within groups. Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling was used to estimate model parameters. Emotional Involvement was found to be an antecedent of Emotional Commitment, Project Impact was not. No interaction effect was found between Emotional Involvement and Project Impact on Emotional Commitment. Both results indicated that Emotional Commitment had a substantial and significant effect on Resource Allocation. A significant effect was found on Risk Perception. A negative, but non-significant effect was found on Information Usage. The results of both studies are discussed. Limitations as well as implications for future research and managerial practice are given.
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