The Attribution of Success and Failure in IT Projects

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Management




This article was originally published as: Standing, C., Guilfoyle, A., Lin, C., & Love, P. (2006). The attribution of success and failure in IT projects, Industrial Management & Data Systems, 106(8), pp.1148 - 1165 Original article available here


The purpose of this research is to determine how project managers attribute information technology (IT) project success and failure. IT personnel from large Australian organisations completed an adapted version of the Attributional Styles questionnaire, which asked them to attribute causes along a number of attribution dimensions, for IT projects which have either succeeded or failed. The results indicate that IT support workers attribute failure to external factors, whilst attributing success to themselves. On the other hand, executive management took a more balanced perspective which attribute success to external factors and only partially to themselves, whereas they attribute significant personal responsibility for failure. More junior professionals and operational IT employees can learn from their senior professionals in attributing success and failure. Post-implementation reviews and debriefings conducted by senior IT professionals are ways of passing on their experience in relation to project and self-evaluations. This paper takes a well established psychology theory and applies it to the management of information systems (IS)/IT projects. IS/IT research has not examined how IT professionals attribute success and failure within projects.




Link to publisher version (DOI)