The Halo and Devil Effects: Impediments to Project Delivery


By Onyinyechi F. Okebugwu and Enoch O-M Omajeh 

Department of Project Management Technology

Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO)



While successfully executed and delivered projects are desired, most often that is not realized. This paper explores the Halo and Devil Effects with the core objective of proving that they impede project delivery. It was seen that the Halo and Devil Effects are errors in rating, when an estimator tend to allow a perception of one factor, to influence his ratings on all other factors. To investigate how these biases impede project delivery, an actual project execution case was examined. First it was shown that, the Halo and Devil Effects affected ratings and selection of individuals into the project team. One project success factor (time) was selected against which the actual performances of the individuals in the selected project team were measured, with the mean taken as the group performance. The individuals that did not make the team were given identical work to do, their performances were also measured, and the mean noted. Then a comparative analysis of the mean performances of the two groups was done.

The results of the analysis show that the Halo and Devil Effects, by distorting ratings, affected optimal selection of project team and their performance thereafter. The below-optimal performance of project team negatively impacted all factors of project success, and project delivery was impeded.

Keywords: Performance Appraisal, Ratings, Halo Effect, Devil Effect, Project team selection, Project delivery 

1.0         INTRODUCTION

One problem that has consistently plagued Nations is poor project delivery. This is evident in the number of abandoned projects and badly executed projects in many private and public spheres (Adebayo, 2013). A Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC) set up in March 2011, by the Nigerian President (Goodluck Jonathan) to look into cases of abandoned federal government projects reported that there are eleven thousand, eight hundred and eighty-six (11,886) abandoned projects that will cost an estimated N7.78 trillion to complete. If the government does not start any new projects, it will take more than five years budgeting about N1.5 trillion annually to complete them all – and that is assuming no cost-over runs or delays (El Rufai, 2012). And these alarming figures represent federal projects only, if projects initiated and then abandoned by state governments (or other private entities) were to be added to this list, the figure would be considerably much higher. 


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About the Authors

flag-nigeriapmwj19-feb2014-okebugwu-AUTHOR1 OKEBUGWUOnyinhechi F. Okebugwu

Owerri, Nigeria

Onyinyechi F. Okebugwu has a B.  Tech in Project Management Technology, and is currently writing her thesis, having completed course work for the award of MSc in Project Management. Her area of Interest is Project Human Resource Management, Team Formation, and Team Development.  She can be contacted at [email protected]

flag-nigeriapmwj19-feb2014-okebugwu-AUTHOR2 OMAJEHEnoch O-M Omajeh

Owerri, Nigeria

Enoch O-M Omajeh has a B. Tech in Project Management Technology, and is currently writing his Master’s thesis for an MSc in Project Management.  His particular areas of interest are assessing causes of project failures and determining critical factors to project success. Omajeh can be contacted at [email protected].