, Volume 111, Issue 1, pp 69-95

Voting in small committees

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Abstract

We analyze the voting behavior of a small committee that has to approve or reject a project proposal whose return is uncertain. Members have diverse preferences: some of them want to maximize the expected value, while others have a bias towards project approval and ignore their information on the project value. We focus on the most efficient use of scarce information when members cannot communicate prior to voting, and we provide insights on the optimal composition of the committee. Our main result is that the presence of biased members can improve the voting outcome, by simplifying the strategies of unbiased members. Thus, committees with diverse members perform as well as homogeneous committees, and even better in some cases. In particular, when value-maximizing members outnumber biased members by one vote, the optimal equilibrium becomes unique.