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Specialization and partisanship in committee search


  • Moldovanu, Benny

    () (Department of Economics, University of Bonn)

  • Shi, Xianwen

    () (Department of Economics, University of Toronto)


A committee decides by unanimity whether to accept the current alternative, or to continue costly search. Each alternative is described by a vector of distinct attributes, and each committee member can privately assess the quality of one attribute (her "specialty"). Preferences are heterogeneous and interdependent: each specialist values all attributes, but puts a higher weight on her specialty (partisanship). We study how acceptance standards and members' welfare vary with the amount of conflict within the committee. We also compare decisions made by committees consisting of specialized experts to decisions made by committees of generalists who can each assess all information available. The acceptance standard decreases (increases) in the degree of conflict when information is public (private). In both cases welfare decreases in the level of conflict. Finally, we identify situations where specialized committee decisions yield Pareto improvements over specialized, one-person decisions and over committee decisions made by generalists.

Suggested Citation

  • Moldovanu, Benny & Shi, Xianwen, 2013. "Specialization and partisanship in committee search," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(3), September.
  • Handle: RePEc:the:publsh:1292

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ettore Damiano & Hao Li & Wing Suen, 2008. "Delay in Strategic Information Aggregation," Working Papers tecipa-311, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    2. Albrecht, James & Anderson, Axel & Vroman, Susan, 2010. "Search by committee," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(4), pages 1386-1407, July.
    3. Bruno Strulovici, 2010. "Learning While Voting: Determinants of Collective Experimentation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 933-971, May.
    4. Alpern, Steve & Gal, Shmuel & Solan, Eilon, 2010. "A sequential selection game with vetoes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-14, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Inukai, Keigo & Kawata, Keisuke & Sasaki, Masaru, 2017. "Committee Search with Ex-ante Heterogeneous Agents: Theory and Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 10760, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Alessandro Bonatti & Heikki Rantakari, 2016. "The Politics of Compromise," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(2), pages 229-259, February.
    3. Name-Correa, Alvaro J. & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2019. "Social pressure, transparency, and voting in committees," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    4. Rosar, Frank, 2015. "Continuous decisions by a committee: Median versus average mechanisms," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 15-65.
    5. Moldovanu, Benny & Rosar, Frank, 2019. "Brexit: Dynamic Voting with an Irreversible Option," CEPR Discussion Papers 14101, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Christian Roessler & Sandro Shelegia & Bruno Strulovici, 2018. "Collective Commitment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(1), pages 347-380.
    7. Thomas J. Chemmanur & Viktar Fedaseyeu, 2018. "A Theory of Corporate Boards and Forced CEO Turnover," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(10), pages 4798-4817, October.
    8. Mauring, Eeva, 2016. "A two-agent model of sequential search and choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 122-137.
    9. Schmidbauer, Eric, 2017. "Multi-period competitive cheap talk with highly biased experts," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 240-254.
    10. Freer, Mikhail & Martinelli, César & Wang, Siyu, 2020. "Collective experimentation: A laboratory study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 365-379.
    11. Schmidbauer, Eric, 2019. "Budget selection when agents compete," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 255-268.
    12. Steve Alpern & Vic Baston, 2017. "The Secretary Problem with a Selection Committee: Do Conformist Committees Hire Better Secretaries?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(4), pages 1184-1197, April.
    13. Alex Gershkov & Andreas Kleiner & Benny Moldovanu & Xianwen Shi, 2019. "The Art of Compromising: Voting with Interdependent Values and the Flag of the Weimar Republic," Working Papers tecipa-645, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    14. Ginzburg, Boris & Guerra, José-Alberto, 2019. "When collective ignorance is bliss: Theory and experiment on voting for learning," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 52-64.
    15. Freimuth, Claudia & Oelmann, Mark & Amann, Erwin, 2018. "Development and prospects of standardization in the German municipal wastewater sector: Version 1.0," IBES Diskussionsbeiträge 223, University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of Business and Economic Studie (IBES).
    16. Eric Schmidbauer, 2016. "Multi-period competitive cheap talk with very biased experts," Working Papers 2016-04, University of Central Florida, Department of Economics.
    17. Volker Hahn, 2017. "On the drawbacks of large committees," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 46(2), pages 563-582, May.

    More about this item


    Committee search; asymmetric information; interdependent values; specialization; partisanship;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games


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