IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/wzbeoc/spii2017308.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A rationale for unanimity in committees

Author

Listed:
  • Breitmoser, Yves
  • Valasek, Justin

Abstract

Existing theoretical and experimental studies have established that unanimity is a poor decision rule for promoting information aggregation. Despite this, unanimity is frequently used in committees making decisions on behalf of society. This paper shows that when committee members are exposed to "idiosyncratic" payoffs that condition on their individual vote, unanimity can facilitate truthful communication and optimal information aggregation. Theoretically, we show that since agents" votes are not always pivotal, majority rule suffers from a free-rider problem. Unanimity mitigates free-riding since responsibility for the committee's decision is equally distributed across all agents. We test our predictions in a controlled laboratory experiment. As predicted, if unanimity is required, subjects are more truthful, respond more to others' messages, and are ultimately more likely to make the optimal decision. Idiosyncratic payoffs such as a moral bias thus present a rationale for the widespread use of unanimous voting.

Suggested Citation

  • Breitmoser, Yves & Valasek, Justin, 2017. "A rationale for unanimity in committees," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2017-308, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2017308
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/167587/1/895026783.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Gilat Levy, 2007. "Decision Making in Committees: Transparency, Reputation, and Voting Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 150-168, March.
    3. Stahl Dale O. & Wilson Paul W., 1995. "On Players' Models of Other Players: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 218-254, July.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:103:y:2009:i:02:p:175-192_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:96:y:2002:i:01:p:127-140_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Miguel A. Costa-Gomes & Georg Weizsäcker, 2008. "Stated Beliefs and Play in Normal-Form Games," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 729-762.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:02:p:407-423_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Erik Eyster & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "Cursed Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1623-1672, September.
    9. Laurent Bouton & Aniol Llorente-Saguer & Frédéric Malherbe, 2014. "Get Rid of Unanimity: The Superiority of Majority Rule with Veto Power," NBER Working Papers 20417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:aea:aejmic:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:181-209 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:23-35_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. John Morgan & Felix Várdy, 2012. "Mixed Motives and the Optimal Size of Voting Bodies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(5), pages 986-1026.
    13. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2004. "A model of noisy introspection," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 365-382, February.
    14. repec:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:02:p:375-393_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    16. repec:cup:apsrev:v:90:y:1996:i:01:p:34-45_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Drew Fudenberg & David G. Rand & Anna Dreber, 2012. "Slow to Anger and Fast to Forgive: Cooperation in an Uncertain World," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 720-749, April.
    18. R. Mark Isaac & James M. Walker, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-199.
    19. Luis Rios & Nikolaos Sahinidis, 2013. "Derivative-free optimization: a review of algorithms and comparison of software implementations," Journal of Global Optimization, Springer, vol. 56(3), pages 1247-1293, July.
    20. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004. "Voting when money and morals conflict: an experimental test of expressive voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1645-1664, July.
    21. Pedro Dal Bo & Guillaume R. Frochette, 2011. "The Evolution of Cooperation in Infinitely Repeated Games: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 411-429, February.
    22. Bouton, Laurent & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol & Malherbe, Frédéric, 2017. "Unanimous rules in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 179-198.
    23. Jacob K. Goeree & Leeat Yariv, 2011. "An Experimental Study of Collective Deliberation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 893-921, May.
    24. Yves Breitmoser, 2015. "Cooperation, but No Reciprocity: Individual Strategies in the Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(9), pages 2882-2910, September.
    25. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Sebastian Fehrler & Niall Hughes, 2018. "How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 181-209, February.
    27. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2007. "Deliberative voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 317-338, May.
    28. Peter Arcidiacono & John Bailey Jones, 2003. "Finite Mixture Distributions, Sequential Likelihood and the EM Algorithm," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(3), pages 933-946, May.
    29. Bauke Visser & Otto H. Swank, 2007. "On Committees of Experts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 337-372.
    30. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri Drange Hole & Erik Ø Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2007. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 818-827, June.
    31. repec:cup:apsrev:v:100:y:2006:i:02:p:209-217_06 is not listed on IDEAS
    32. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191.
    33. Li Hao & Wing Suen, 2009. "Viewpoint: Decision-making in committees," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 42(2), pages 359-392, May.
    34. Stahl, Dale II & Wilson, Paul W., 1994. "Experimental evidence on players' models of other players," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 309-327, December.
    35. Hao Li, 2001. "A Theory of Conservatism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 617-636, June.
    36. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    committees; incomplete information; decision rules; cheap talk; information aggregation; laboratory experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2017308. 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: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/owwzbde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.