The attribution of success and failure by IS Project Professionals

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Management




This article was originally published as: Guilfoyle, A., Lin, C., Love, P. & Standing, C. (2005). The Attribution of Success and Failure by IS Project Professionals. Proceedings of the 16th Australasian Conference on Information Systems: Socialising IT 2005. Sydney: Association for Information Systems. Original article available here


Success and failure of IT projects is a complex issue, due to the large number of projects that are undertaken, definitions of success and failure, high failure rates, substantial effects of projects on users and high responsibility. In this exploratory study we examine how project managers attribute IT project success and failure in large Australian organizations. 112 IT personnel completed an adapted version of the Attributional Styles questionnaire (Furnham et al. 1994) which asked them to attribute causes along a number of attribution dimensions, for IT projects which have either succeeded or failed. The results showed executive management support and users involvement had great impact on the IT project success or failure. In addition, most IT project managers attributed failure to others while attributed success to themselves. Results are discussed in terms of what sort of culture is maintained in the area in terms for how success and familiar of IT projects are attributed? And what are the potential ramifications for future motivations to engage in, complete, adjust or actively create new projects within the organisation?

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