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On the Composition of Committees


  • Klaas J. Beniers


This article is concerned with the role of committees in collective decision making processes in a world where agents must be motivated to collect information. Committees improve the quality of decision making by providing information and by coordinating the collection of information. We address two types of questions. First, how does the composition of a committee affect final decisions? Second, what is the optimal composition of a committee from the decision maker's point of view? As to the latter question, we show that the cost of information collection plays an important role. If this cost is low, then the preferences of the committee members should be aligned to those of the decision maker. Members with similar preferences as the decision maker collect the proper pieces of information. Moreover, manipulation of information does not occur if the preferences of the decision maker and the members are consonant. If the cost of searching is high, then the committee should be composed of members with polarized preferences. Outliers have a strong incentive to search for information. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:20:y:2004:i:2:p:353-378

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1994. "Benefits of Narrow Business Strategies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1330-1349, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Irene Valsecchi, 2013. "The expert problem: a survey," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 303-331, November.
    2. Silvia Dominguez-Martinez & Otto Swank, 2006. "Polarization, Information Collection and Electoral Control," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 26(3), pages 527-545, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Bourjade, Sylvain & Jullien, Bruno, 2004. "Expertise and Bias in Decision Making," MPRA Paper 7251, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jan 2007.
    5. Sylvain Bourjade & Bruno Jullien, 2011. "The roles of reputation and transparency on the behavior of biased experts," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(3), pages 575-594, September.
    6. Bernard Caillaud & Jean Tirole, 2007. "Consensus Building: How to Persuade a Group," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1877-1900, December.
    7. repec:pit:wpaper:516 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bauke Visser & Otto H. Swank, 2007. "On Committees of Experts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 337-372.
    9. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:345-363 is not listed on IDEAS

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