Search Committees

33 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2010 Last revised: 22 Oct 2011

See all articles by Benny Moldovanu

Benny Moldovanu

University of Bonn - Chair of Economic Theory II; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Xianwen Shi

University of Toronto - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 10, 2011


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 "speciality"). Preferences are heterogeneous and interdependent: each specialist values all attributes, but puts a higher weight on her speciality (partisanship). We study how acceptance standards, members' welfare and expected search duration vary with the amount of conflict within the committee. We also compare decisions made by committees consisting of specialized experts to decisions made by committees of generalists who can each assess all information available. The acceptance cutoff 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.

Keywords: Committee, Search, Specialization, Interdependent Values, Voting

JEL Classification: D82, D83, C72

Suggested Citation

Moldovanu, Benny and Shi, Xianwen, Search Committees (May 10, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Benny Moldovanu

University of Bonn - Chair of Economic Theory II ( email )

Lennestrasse 37
53113 Bonn
+49 228 736395 (Phone)
+49 228 737940 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Xianwen Shi (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S3G7

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics