Specialization and partisanship in committee search

Benny Moldovanu, Xianwen Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 that consist 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-774
Number of pages24
JournalTheoretical Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Asymmetric information
  • C72
  • Committee search
  • D82
  • D83
  • Interdependent values
  • Partisanship
  • Specialization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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