The Dark Side of Helping: Escalation
In the real world, employees may be presented with difficult tasks that could be tackled in multiple ways and with available resources. On top of this, with deadlines, few external resources, and other tasks that employees typically face, thinking tends to be narrowed and so do the actions that follow. This could lead to a persistent course of action that leads to failure. We call this situation escalation of commitment. When our coworkers offer help and we are stuck and have invested time and effort into near-impossible tasks, is it worth accepting this offer of help? Or, would we rather risk more time and resources and instead persist in solving this near impossible problem? In the latter option, the individual may experience burnout and stress. For the organization, deadlines would not be met, and objectives could not be accomplished. My research looks at these helping behaviours and whether they lead others astray in an escalation of commitment. Specifically, I predict that individuals who have invested into a failing course of action are less likely to abandon this path when they receive help from others. This is important because when employees attempt to help a coworker who is invested in an extremely difficult task, they may be doing more harm than good.