Information system project failure is a costly and common problem despite advances in development tools and technologies. In this paper, we argue that one reason for this is the failure of project postmortems to generate constructive lessons learned from previous projects for organizations to use to improve their development practices. Over time, these ineffective practices would persist in organizations which in turn eventually might become resistant to change. Worse, organizations may even learn to fail. The attribution literature provides a promising theoretical base for explaining why project postmortems fail. A case study of a project postmortem undertaken for an abandoned e-procurement system project is discussed and analyzed. The results suggested that attribution errors were influenced by conditions such as presence of self-appointed mindsets, a general persistence of a negative belief, memory decay and selective recall of project events. The research and practical implications of these findings are discussed along with prescriptions for how to minimize the problem of attribution errors during project postmortems.
Pan, Gary and Flynn, Donal, "Why Information Systems Project Postmortems Fail: An Attribution Perspective Based on a Case Study Analysis" (2003). ICIS 2003 Proceedings. 31.