Is specialization desirable in committee decision making?

Ruth Ben-Yashar, Winston T.H. Koh, Shmuel Nitzan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Committee decision making is examined in this study focusing on the role assigned to the committee members. In particular, we are concerned about the comparison between committee performance under specialization and non-specialization of the decision makers. Specialization (in the context of project or public policy selection) means that the decision of each committee member is based on a narrow area, which typically results in the acquirement and use of relatively high expertise in that area. When the committee members' expertise is already determined, specialization only means that the decision of each committee member is based solely on his/her relatively high expertise area. This form of specialization is potentially inferior relative to non-specialization under which the decision of each committee member is based on different areas, not just his/her relatively high expertise area. Given that the expertise of the committee members is already determined but unknown, our analysis focuses on non-specializing individuals whose decision is based on a decision rule that does not require information on the decision-making skills. Under these realistic assumptions, non-specialization is shown to be preferable over specialization, depending on the aggregation rule applied by the committee. The significance of our approach is not limited to the specific results that we obtain. Rather, it should be viewed as a first step toward a deeper examination of the role of individual decision makers in enhancing the performance of collective decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-357
Number of pages17
JournalTheory and Decision
Issue number3
Early online date19 Jun 2011
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Collective decision making
  • Committee
  • Project selection
  • Public policy
  • Simple majority rule
  • Specialization
  • Uncertain dichotomous choice

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