Central Banking by Committee
There is a small, but growing, economics literature on the importance and effects of having monetary policy made by a committee, rather than by an individual. Complimenting this is an older and larger body of literature on groups in the other social sciences, particular in social psychology. This paper provides a review of some of this work, focusing on two important features of committees: the effect of their size on performance and whether or not they are more moderate than the members who make them up. Individual members of a committee acquire idiosyncratic information which the committee uses to make a decision. A result of the famous Condorcet Jury Theorem is that larger committees have more resources, in the form of more information, and are thus better than smaller ones. This result depends on individuals being willing to work as hard at gathering information when they are members of a committee as they would be willing to work if they were acting alone. The economics literature suggests that this may not hold; that individual members may have an incentive to shirk. This phenomenon of a member withholding effort is called social loading in the social pyschology literature. Studies stretching over 125 years document its existence and suggest that it becomes more important as committee size increases and that it disappears when individual members contributions can be identified and evaluated. The Condorcet Jury Theorem also depends on the committee being able to aggregate members information and on members being willing to truthfully reveal their information. An excessively formal meeting structure may cause the former to fail to hold; committee members with different objectives may cause the latter not to be true. As a result of shirking and coordination problems, smaller committees may be better than larger ones and the optimal size for a committee is an empirical issue. Committees pool members information and views, thus it seems that monetary policy made by a committee should be more moderate than monetary policy made by a single individual. However, several hundred studies demonstrate that belonging to a committee polarizes its members and, hence, committees may be more extreme than individuals. A particularly harmful form of group polarization occurs when committee members striving for consensus causes them to stop paying suffcient attention to alternative courses of action. In this case the committee may make terrible decisions that none of its members would have made on their own. The results of the literature on committee size and committee polarization suggest that the ideal monetary policy committee may not have many more than five members. It should have a well defined objective and it should publish the votes of its members. It should be structured so that members do not act as part of a group, perhaps by having short terms in office and members from outside the central bank. External scrutiny of the decision-making process should be encouraged.
|Date of creation:||Feb 2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Postbus 98, 1000 AB Amsterdam|
Web page: http://www.dnb.nl/en/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
- 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.
- Hao Li & Sherwin Rosen & Wing Suen, 2000. "Conflicts and Common Interests in Committees," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0341, Econometric Society.
- Hao Li & Sherwin Rosen & Wing Suen, 1999. "Conflicts and Common Interests in Committees," NBER Working Papers 7158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
- Cason, Timothy N & Mui, Vai-Lam, 1997. "A Laboratory Study of Group Polarisation in the Team Dictator Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1465-83, September.
- Eduardo Ley & Mark F.J. Steel, 1998.
"A model of management teams,"
Managerial and Decision Economics,
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 355-363.
- Eduardo Ley & Mark F J Steel, 1995. "A Model of Management Teams," ESE Discussion Papers 24, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
- Ley, E. & Steel, M.FJ., 1995. "A Model of Management Teams," Papers 9586, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
- Ley, E. & Steel, M.F.J., 1995. "A model of management teams," Discussion Paper 1995-86, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Eduardo Ley & Mark F.J. Steel, 1995. "A Model of Management Teams," Others 9503001, EconWPA, revised 19 Jul 1995.
- Lombardelli, Clare & Proudman, James & Talbot, James, 2005.
"Committees Versus Individuals: An Experimental Analysis of Monetary Policy Decision Making,"
823, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Clare Lombardelli & James Proudman & James Talbot, 2005. "Committees Versus Individuals: An Experimental Analysis of Monetary Policy Decision-Making," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 1(1), May.
- Lombardelli, Clare & James Proudman & James Talbot, 2003. "Committees versus individuals: an experimental analysis of monetary policy decision-making," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 142, Royal Economic Society.
- Clare Lombardelli & James Proudman & James Talbot, 2002. "Committees versus individuals: an experimental analysis of monetary policy decision-making," Bank of England working papers 165, Bank of England.
- Whyte, Glen, 1993. "Escalating Commitment in Individual and Group Decision Making: A Prospect Theory Approach," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 430-455, April.
- Alan S. Blinder & John Morgan, 2000.
"Are Two Heads Better Than One?: An Experimental Analysis of Group vs. Individual Decisionmaking,"
NBER Working Papers
7909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alan S. Blinder & John Morgan, 2001. "Are Two Heads Better Than One?: An Experimental Analysis of Group vs. Individual Decisionmaking," Working Papers 130, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
- 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.
- Kiel, Alexandra & Gerling, Kerstin & Schulte, Elisabeth & Grüner, Hans Peter, 2003. "Information acquisition and decision making in committees: a survey," Working Paper Series 0256, European Central Bank.
- Christopher J. Waller, 2000. "Policy Boards and Policy Smoothing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 305-339.
- Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
- repec:oup:restud:v:66:y:1999:i:1:p:183-98 is not listed on IDEAS
- Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999.
"The Economics of Career Concerns, Part I: Comparing Information Structures,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 183-198.
- Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The economics of career concerns: part 1 :comparing information structures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9617, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- Gerlach-Kristen, Petra, 2005. "Too little, too late: Interest rate setting and the costs of consensus," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 376-381, September.
- Sah, Raaj Kumar & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1988. "Committees, Hierarchies and Polyarchies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 451-70, June.
- Drora Karotkin & Jacob Paroush, 2003. "Optimum committee size: Quality-versus-quantity dilemma," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 429-441, 06.
- Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dnb:dnbwpp:091. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Rob Vet)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.