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The Informational Theory of Legislative Committees: An Experimental Analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Battaglini, Marco

    () (Department of Economics, Cornell University and EIEF)

  • Lai, Ernest K

    () (Department of Economics, Lehigh University)

  • Wooyoung Lim

    () (Department of Economics, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Joseph Tao-yi Wang

    () (Department of Economics, National Taiwan University)

Abstract

We experimentally investigate the informational theory of legislative committees first proposed by Gilligan and Krehbiel [1987, 1989]. Two committees provide policy-relevant information to a legislature under two different procedural rules. Under the open rule, the legislature is free to make any decision; under the closed rule, the legislature is constrained to choose between a committee's proposal and an exogenous status quo. Our experiment shows that even in the presence of conflicts of interests, legislative committees help improve the legislature's decision by providing useful information. We further obtain evidence in support of three theoretical predictions: the Outlier Principle, according to which more extreme preferences of the committees reduce the extent of information transmission; the Distributional Principle, according to which the open rule is more distributionally eefficient than the closed rule; and the Restrictive-rule Principle, according to which the closed rule better facilitates the informational role of legislative committees. We, however, obtain mixed evidence for the Heterogeneity Principle, according to which more information can be extracted in the presence of multiple committees with heterogeneous preferences. Our experimental findings provide overall support for the equilibrium predictions of Gilligan and Krehbiel [1989], some of which have been controversial in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Battaglini, Marco & Lai, Ernest K & Wooyoung Lim & Joseph Tao-yi Wang, 2016. "The Informational Theory of Legislative Committees: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 1601, National Taiwan University, Department of Economics, revised May 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:ntw:wpaper:1601
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Krehbiel, Keith, 2001. "Plausibility of Signals by a Heterogeneous Committee," Research Papers 1678, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    2. repec:hoo:wpaper:e-89-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sanchez-Pages, Santiago & Vorsatz, Marc, 2007. "An experimental study of truth-telling in a sender-receiver game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 86-112, October.
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    5. Weingast, Barry R & Marshall, William J, 1988. "The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 132-163, February.
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    16. Lai, Ernest K. & Lim, Wooyoung & Wang, Joseph Tao-yi, 2015. "An experimental analysis of multidimensional cheap talk," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 114-144.
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    19. Gilligan, Thomas W & Krehbiel, Keith, 1987. "Collective Decisionmaking and Standing Committees: An Informational Rationale for Restrictive Amendment Procedures," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 287-335, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Eleonora Patacchini, 2020. "Social Groups and the Effectiveness of Protests," NBER Working Papers 26757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lubensky, Dmitry & Schmidbauer, Eric, 2018. "Equilibrium informativeness in veto games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 104-125.
    3. Minozzi, William & Woon, Jonathan, 2019. "The limited value of a second opinion: Competition and exaggeration in experimental cheap talk games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 144-162.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Legislative Committees; Strategic Information Transmission; Laboratory Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • 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

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