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Decision making in committees: transparency, reputation, and voting rules

By Gilat Levy


In this paper I analyze the effect of the transparency of the decision making process in committees on the decisions that are eventually taken. I focus on committees whose members are motivated by career concerns, so that each member tries to enhance his own reputation. When the decision making process is secretive, the individual votes of the committee members are not exposed to the public but only the final decision. Thus, individuals are evaluated according to the group's decision. I find that in such a case, group members are induced to comply with preexisting biases. For example, if the voting rule demands a supermajority to accept a reform, individuals vote more often against reforms and exacerbate the conservatism of the voting rule. When the decision making process becomes transparent and individual votes are observed, this effect disappears and such committees are then more likely to accept reforms. I also find that coupled with the right voting rule, a secretive procedure may induce better decisions than a transparent one

Topics: H Social Sciences (General)
Publisher: American Economic Association
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1257/aer.97.1.150
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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