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The Effect of IT Project Managers’ Mental Construal on IT Project Risk Management Activities

Mark Keil 
Georgia State University

Mark Keil

Prior research suggests that information technology (IT) project managers (PMs) often fail to take adequate steps to manage project risks and that this may contribute to the high failure rate associated with IT projects. In this presentation, I will discuss PMI-funded research that explores how IT PMs’ mental construal affects four key IT project risk management activities: (1) risk identification, (2) risk assessment, (3)

risk planning, and (4) risk response. We recruited a total of 805 IT PMs for this research and conducted a series of four laboratory experiments. In our experiments, we found that IT PMs with a concrete mental construal (1) identify a greater number of project risks (Experiment 1), (2) perceive a greater potential impact of project risks (Experiment 2), (3) perceive that more effort and resources are required for risk management (Experiment 3), and (4) are less willing to enact risk responses (Experiment 4) than IT PMs with an abstract mental construal. This research contributes to our understanding of IT project risk management and suggests ways for improving IT project risk management practices.


Mark Keil is a Distinguished University Professor and the John B. Zellars Professor of Computer Information Systems in the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.   He holds B.S.E., S.M., and D.B.A. degrees from Princeton University, M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, and Harvard Business School, respectively.  Keil’s research focuses on IT project management and decision making and includes work on managing IT project risks, preventing IT project escalation, and improving IT project status reporting.  He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in top journals including: MIT Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, Communications of the ACM, and IEEE Software.  He has served as Senior Editor or Associate Editor for many of the leading journals in the field of information systems, and as Division Chair for the Academy of Management (Organizational Communication and Information Systems Division). Keil has conducted executive training for corporations and has been a featured speaker at Deutsche Bank’s Group Technology & Operations center in Eschborn, Germany and at Simula Research Laboratory’s Norwegian IT Industry group. He has also been a featured speaker at the Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s International Conference, the Project Management Institute’s Research and Education Conference, the Heartlands Chapter of the Project Management Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Australian Institute of Project Management.  He has been profiled or quoted in publications such as Information Week, Computerworld, BusinessWeek, CIO Insight, Baseline, and Business News Daily.

PMI Tampa Bay 2018 Business Meeting

The PMI Tampa Bay 2018 Annual Business Meeting will be held on October 15th at our normally scheduled 3rd Monday of the month chapter meeting.  

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