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On Committees of Experts

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  • Bauke Visser
  • Otto H Swank

Abstract

A committee makes a decision on a project on behalf of "the public." Members of the committee agree on the a priori value of the project, and hold additional private information about its consequences. They are experts who care about the value of the project and about being considered well informed. Before voting on the project, members can exchange their private information simultaneously. We show that reputational concerns make the a priori unconventional decision more attractive and lead committees to show a united front. These results hold irrespective of whether information can be manipulated or not. Also, reputational concerns induce members to manipulate information and vote strategically if their preferences differ considerably from those of the member casting the decisive vote. Our last result is that the optimal voting rule balances the quality of information exchange and the alignment of interests of the decisive voter with those of the public. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 122 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 337-372

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:1:p:337-372

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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  1. Gerling, Kerstin & Gruner, Hans Peter & Kiel, Alexandra & Schulte, Elisabeth, 2005. "Information acquisition and decision making in committees: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 563-597, September.
  2. Hao Li & Sherwin Rosen & Wing Suen, 2001. "Conflicts and Common Interests in Committees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1478-1497, December.
  3. Klaas J. Beniers, 2004. "On the Composition of Committees," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 353-378, October.
  4. Hans Gersbach & Volker Hahn, 2004. "Voting Transparency, Conflicting Interests, And The Appointment Of Central Bankers," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16, pages 321-345, November.
  5. Gabel, Matthew J. & Shipan, Charles R., 2004. "A social choice approach to expert consensus panels," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 543-564, May.
  6. Ellen E. Meade & David Stasavage, 2004. "Publicity of Debate and the Incentive to Dissent: Evidence from the US Federal Reserve," CEP Discussion Papers dp0608, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191, 01.
  8. Suurmond, Guido & Swank, Otto H. & Visser, Bauke, 2004. "On the bad reputation of reputational concerns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2817-2838, December.
  9. Ottaviani, Marco & Sorensen, Peter, 2001. "Information aggregation in debate: who should speak first?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 393-421, September.
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