Cheap, Easy, or Connected: The Conditions for Creating Group Coordination

22 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2013 Last revised: 13 Sep 2016

See all articles by Mathew D. McCubbins

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Daniel B. Rodriguez

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

Nicholas Weller

University of California, Riverside (UCR)

Date Written: November 10, 2013

Abstract

In both legal and political settings there has been a push toward adopting institutions that encourage consensus. The key feature of these institutions is that they bring interested parties together to communicate with each other. Existing research about the success or failure of particular institutions is ambiguous. Therefore, we turn our attention to understanding the general conditions when consensus is achievable, and we test experimentally three crucial factors that affect a group’s ability to achieve consensus: (1) the difficulty of the problem, (2) the costs of communication, and (3) the structure of communication. Using multiple experimental approaches, we find that difficult problems impede consensus, costs make consensus less likely (even relatively very small costs), and the structure of communication has significant effects and interacts with both problem difficulty and costs. In particular, the structure of communication can reduce the negative effect of costs and facilitate consensus. Together these results imply that consensus is only likely to occur if problems are easy, costs to communicate are low, or the communication structure helps overcome the other two problems. These findings can provide insight about the institutional designs that can be utilized to promote consensual outcomes.

Keywords: coordination, consensus, institutional design, experiments

Suggested Citation

McCubbins, Mathew D. and Rodriguez, Daniel B. and Weller, Nicholas, Cheap, Easy, or Connected: The Conditions for Creating Group Coordination (November 10, 2013). Southern California Law Review, Vol. 86, 2013; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 14-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2352465

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Daniel B. Rodriguez

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Nicholas Weller (Contact Author)

University of California, Riverside (UCR) ( email )

900 University Avenue
Riverside, CA 92521
United States

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